The Boonton Line/Orange Branch Transit Utilization Study.

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The Boonton Line/Orange Branch Transit Utilization Study.

Postby braves » Thu Feb 08, 2018 7:24 pm

I just read in the NJ Transit 2017 Annual Report that a study will begin on the Boonton Line/Orange Branch Transit Utilization Study .

However, it doesn't mention what alternatives & alignments are being looked at for the study.

If anyone knows on what alternatives and alignments are being looked at, please post them
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Re: The Boonton Line/Orange Branch Transit Utilization Study

Postby Hawaiitiki » Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:25 am

I wonder if it has anything to do with this: Walk/Bike Path Could Connect Jersey City and Montclair gaining some traction and that study is NJT hitting the panic button trying to not lose the corridor forever. I think extending the Newark Light Rail/Subway to Watsessing Ave NJT Station should be no brainer though.

The 11-mile Ice & Iron Greenway, which is also being referred to as the Essex-Hudson Greenway, would run along the former Boonton Line train tracks and possibly Jersey City’s Bergen Arches and Sixth Street Embankment. It would travel from Montclair to the Jersey City waterfront, crossing the Passaic River using an abandoned bridge called the WR Draw and passing through the Meadowlands on the existing right-of-way. The greenway would also pass through residential neighborhoods and business districts in communities such as Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Newark’s North Ward, and Kearny and could connect to Mountainside Hospital.
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Re: The Boonton Line/Orange Branch Transit Utilization Study

Postby Roadgeek Adam » Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:16 pm

I've looked at this long and hard....and outside of a Watsessing extension I just can't see it happening. I'll reserve other judgement for the study whenever it comes out, but just opinion based on what exists now and my own speculation:

1) Watsessing Ave Extension theory: This should happen for multiple reasons. With Hartz Mountain gone, there has been some development on the line with the branch basically dormant, so the line is available. Between the Parkway Loft Apartments on the opposite side of the station and the open land with the demolished factory and such at the eastern side, there is a lot of room for transit-oriented development. While most of the TOD has been at Bloomfield station (which needs a renovation badly), there is open land for some at Watsessing. I for one, personally used Grove Street many times when I was at MSU, I didn't like its location, between parking and everything. Watsessing has a chance to be a more rational terminal for parking, development and growth. (Hopefully it would also mean a new bridge over the tracks with opportunity on the other side.)

2) Orange Branch between Silver Lake and Forest Hill. This is where it gets cloudy. In order to make a version where a train from downtown Newark gets to the Boonton Line stations, there is the issue of the junction north of BBP station. Right now, the only way you could get on to the old Orange Branch tracks is to deadhead to Silver Lake or Grove Street, switch positions and move onto the track at the switch facing the other directions. People more educated in light rail transit can probably answer this for me, but I don't think there is a single way this makes any sense in any fashion? You'd probably have to build a flyover ramp to connect from BBP to the Orange Branch, and clearance there is minimal. Now if they were going to consider Grove Street service via the Boonton Line only and make a forced transfer, this becomes easier and cheaper.

3) Forest Hill. A station at Manchester Place is likely, but I personally would prefer it at the crossing closer to Park Elementary. The track is in good shape here, and there is room for a small platform. The station at Manchester could be a big one for the Cherry Blossom Festival as it would be a block from the Visitor Center. A station at the old location of Forest Hill would be nice, but I don't see it working in any reasonable design, especially if you put one further down Manchester Place.

4) Boonton Line east of Forest Hill. 300ft east of the old switch at OJ, the track and ROW has met asphalt for a local company and been fenced off. Hints of the track are still there, but it's been encroached. The serious encroachment on the ROW goes for about 2000ft eastward to the site of the North Newark station. In the last year, they have torn up and fenced off most of the old North Newark platform, which used to be abandoned and publicly accessible. I personally don't know what their plans are for it, but obviously, it would need serious work. East of that, what kind of shape is WR in? Light rail vehicles are much lighter than commuter rail, but that bridge is 121 years old. East of that, the last time I was in West Arlington, the ROW was a forest. While the ROW is intact, is there really a demand for service at West Arlington and Arlington for light rail?

5) Boonton Line west of Forest Hill. As Hawaitiki's post above notes, there are proposals of a railroad track/rail-trail hybrid combo for the line. That would be a great idea. However, the problem we get when we return to Forest Hill is trying to get from the Orange Branch to the western direction. Similar to north of BBP, you'd have to build new tracks near OJ to facilitate service because again you'd have to make a turn otherwise or build a loop somewhere. In this situation, I can see a station at the old Forest Hill stop for the Tiffany residents, but again, I prefer the spot further to the southwest. There aren't any real concerns about the stretch until we hit Benson Street, where I'd be concerned of NIMBYism. Are Glen Ridge and most importantly, Montclair, going to support such a project? Having lived in Montclair/Little Falls as an MSU student, I cannot see that happening.

6) Terminal in Montclair? This one I think is the real killer. Aside of the NIMBYism, there is not a clear cut rail-oriented terminal in Montclair for such a service. The location of the Boonton switches is south of Walnut Street and I don't think Pine and Claremont is a reasonable terminal. Theoretically you could end the service at the Bay Street overpass, build ADA stairs to climb to Bay Street and manufacture the trip over. It's a 660ft walk from the station to the bridge, and you have extra parking on Highland if the speech/hearing center doesn't mind forking some over. I just don't see engineers/planners ever looking at such an idea though.


I personally would love service on both Erie lines back. However, I just don't see it happening in any logical way that doesn't cost an awful lot.
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Re: The Boonton Line/Orange Branch Transit Utilization Study

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:51 pm

Roadgeek Adam wrote:Terminal in Montclair? This one I think is the real killer. Aside of the NIMBYism, there is not a clear cut rail-oriented terminal in Montclair for such a service. The location of the Boonton switches is south of Walnut Street and I don't think Pine and Claremont is a reasonable terminal. Theoretically you could end the service at the Bay Street overpass, build ADA stairs to climb to Bay Street.
Montclair has no intermodal terminal. When the new Bay Street Station was built 2002, this could had been a chance. All the NJT buses drop off and pick up along streets and not at any terminal.
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Re: The Boonton Line/Orange Branch Transit Utilization Study

Postby Roadgeek Adam » Fri Feb 09, 2018 9:20 pm

R36 Combine Coach wrote:
Roadgeek Adam wrote:Terminal in Montclair? This one I think is the real killer. Aside of the NIMBYism, there is not a clear cut rail-oriented terminal in Montclair for such a service. The location of the Boonton switches is south of Walnut Street and I don't think Pine and Claremont is a reasonable terminal. Theoretically you could end the service at the Bay Street overpass, build ADA stairs to climb to Bay Street.
Montclair has no intermodal terminal. When the new Bay Street Station was built 2002, this could had been a chance. All the NJT buses drop off and pick up along streets and not at any terminal.


That's not what I am suggesting. I am suggesting that a 660ft walk between Bay Street and the overpass to the MBL station.
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Re: The Boonton Line/Orange Branch Transit Utilization Study

Postby SecaucusJunction » Sat Feb 10, 2018 7:35 am

OMG just build the rail trail already. Nothing is ever really going to come back on that line, especially from NJ Transit. Let people walk over the ROW, reduce obesity and dream about the old times on the line. In that urban setting, it would be really useful. If they want to keep one track there next to the trail and hope NS business grows enough to use the line 100+ Years from down the road, well then I guess so be it, but it seems pretty silly to me.
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Re: The Boonton Line/Orange Branch Transit Utilization Study

Postby rr503 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 2:53 am

Why aren't they looking at sending the useless Newark Broad/Newark Penn dinky up the Newark Branch towards Route 3 and Clifton? It'd be a great, transportationally beneficial way of repurposing that shuttle, and would lend some order to the aimless development going on along the Passaic. NS could keep freight rights, and run at night if ever necessary à la River Line.
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Re: The Boonton Line/Orange Branch Transit Utilization Study

Postby Hawaiitiki » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:40 am

rr503 wrote:Why aren't they looking at sending the useless Newark Broad/Newark Penn dinky up the Newark Branch towards Route 3 and Clifton? It'd be a great, transportationally beneficial way of repurposing that shuttle, and would lend some order to the aimless development going on along the Passaic. NS could keep freight rights, and run at night if ever necessary à la River Line.


Unfortunately, the way NJT built that stupid extension/branch/loop is not conducive to any sort of meaningful extension from what is currently built. A connection to the Newark Branch would require, making a 90 degree turn immediately after broad, using street running, and then crossing route 21/McCarter highway at grade. Not to mention the sizable topographical difference between the Broad Street NLR station and the Newark Branch, which runs at the Passaic River water line in Newark.

But yea, if they could find the dinero to connect the existing tunnel portal to Newark Penn to McCarter Highway, make right along Clay Street, and a left onto Passaic Street, they could connect to the old branch. Newark Penn's underground trolley terminal definitely has the capacity, they used to run maybe 8x as many routes from there in its heyday.
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Re: The Boonton Line/Orange Branch Transit Utilization Study

Postby andrewjw » Fri Feb 16, 2018 1:48 pm

Hawaiitiki wrote:
rr503 wrote:Why aren't they looking at sending the useless Newark Broad/Newark Penn dinky up the Newark Branch towards Route 3 and Clifton? It'd be a great, transportationally beneficial way of repurposing that shuttle, and would lend some order to the aimless development going on along the Passaic. NS could keep freight rights, and run at night if ever necessary à la River Line.


Unfortunately, the way NJT built that stupid extension/branch/loop is not conducive to any sort of meaningful extension from what is currently built. A connection to the Newark Branch would require, making a 90 degree turn immediately after broad, using street running, and then crossing route 21/McCarter highway at grade. Not to mention the sizable topographical difference between the Broad Street NLR station and the Newark Branch, which runs at the Passaic River water line in Newark.

But yea, if they could find the dinero to connect the existing tunnel portal to Newark Penn to McCarter Highway, make right along Clay Street, and a left onto Passaic Street, they could connect to the old branch. Newark Penn's underground trolley terminal definitely has the capacity, they used to run maybe 8x as many routes from there in its heyday.


By contrast, it seems cheaper to turn east from the City Subway route just after Branch Brook Park, connecting to the Newark Branch in Woodside. This has the advantage of a potential cross-Passaic River connection to Arlington/Kearny, which would give Arlington public transit without the need to operate across now-unusable Meadowlands infrastructure and allowing a bike route from Woodside to Montclair.
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