Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Postby EuroStar » Thu Mar 02, 2017 11:00 am

deathtopumpkins wrote:If you read the article, the landowner is concerned about their property flooding if the new culvert is built - which makes no sense to me, but that's their reasoning. They don't view it as "fixing" anything, because replacing the culvert doesn't benefit them - it benefits NJT by allowing them to build a train station in a floodplain.

I am with you here -- makes no sense and that is why in my mind what is going on is standard NIMBY tactics. Especially given that they are arguing over an event that has not happened in available records including Irene and Sandy. Others might view it differently.
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Postby mtuandrew » Thu Mar 02, 2017 8:08 pm

deathtopumpkins wrote:If you read the article, the landowner is concerned about their property flooding if the new culvert is built - which makes no sense to me, but that's their reasoning.

I can't speak to their underlying motives or to the lay of the land, but this exact situation (a neighbor building a culvert downstream, poorly) led to my parents' back yard flooding for several months. They had to threaten legal action to get the neighbor to fix the problem. It'd make me apprehensive too.
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Postby SemperFidelis » Thu Mar 02, 2017 8:35 pm

From the landowner's point of view it is probably best to take the legal action now, to ensure all the i's are dotted etc. in the planning and execution of this culbert, than to try to fight the bottomless pockets of state government after the fact if something goes wrong.

They are, after all, dealing with an agency that doesn't have the best track record for doing things right. While the farm might not have been damaged by Sandy, the same certainly cannot be said of massive amounts of NJ Transit property that, with just a little bit of leadership, could have been saved. If they were dealing with a competent and incorruptable organization, that would be one thing. They are, however, dealing with the politicized monster of a failure called NJ Transit.
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Postby EuroStar » Fri Mar 03, 2017 8:58 am

mtuandrew wrote:I can't speak to their underlying motives or to the lay of the land, but this exact situation (a neighbor building a culvert downstream, poorly) led to my parents' back yard flooding for several months.

That is probably not comparable to what we have here. As opposed to your parent's neighbor who probably hired the cheapest contractor he could find (who might have never built a culvert before), the state and NJTransit in particular do not have that "luxury". NJT will probably need to bid the project out and that makes it almost a certainty that someone with extensive commercial building experience will win it -- the winner is likely to have built many culverts, bridges and paved roads for the state DOT, so the likelihood of poor or incompetent work is much less (not that NJT is immune to poor quality, but the more likely thing is that NJT gets cheated with the cost as opposed to with the quality by the contractor).

I am confused how the property owner is left being worse off by having the work done compared to the case of not having the work done. Somehow I do not understand how is it that their property is at less risk of flooding now than after the work. While the topology of the area (which I have never visited) could be such that this could be the case, my reading of the article is that if this culvert backs up then the resulting water will flood the area across the street where the station is supposed to be and that is why DEP wants the culvert "fixed". The only objection that I imagine the property owner might have is that if the culvert gets backed up and floods the area of the proposed station then their property floods less than if the culvert does not back up and floods only their property. In theory NJT could leave the culvert as is, build the station, wait for the station to flood and then sue the property owner for damages for not maintaining the culvert and flooding NJT property. Unfortunately I have never heard of this happening for some reason -- I am not aware of NJT or DOT suing a private party for not maintaining infrastructure on their private property. Usually NJT and DOT just fix the damage and move on. The problem here is that if the culvert does not back up, it floods the private party property only anyway. History seems to imply that this is the way it has been in the past -- the culvert never backed up, the area of the station never flooded. Looks like that DEP wants to keep it that way by ensuring that the culvert is in good shape. The private party though seems intent on extracting something extra here. While its motivations are uncertain, the most likely is NIMBY(I would not be surprised if the renter of the property, the Hudson Farm Club is strongly opposed to public transportation in the area). The next most likely reason is that the owners want the state (and NJT) to pay for some other extra work that would guarantee that their property does not flood -- I would not be surprised if that means infrastructure of some kind downstream of the culvert. Note that the property owner currently does not have such a guarantee and never had it in the past with the existing infrastructure, but hey, if they can get the state and the taxpayers to pay for it then why not?

SemperFidelis wrote:From the landowner's point of view it is probably best to take the legal action now, to ensure all the i's are dotted etc. in the planning and execution of this culbert, than to try to fight the bottomless pockets of state government after the fact if something goes wrong.

In contexts like this one dotting the i's and crossing the t's from every random agency, property owner, environmental group, politician and such is exactly why nothing gets done in this state. Now the two sides will spend about 3-4 years suing each other and then settle it somehow. By then the cost of the project would have doubled, permits would have expired and need to be reissued, regulations would have changed, so the DEP or someone else will find another reason to grandstand.

BTW, I appreciate everyone keeping the current arguments to the specifics of the dispute about the culvert (as opposed to bringing in arguments whether the whole project is worth it). Thank you.
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Postby cjvrr » Fri Mar 03, 2017 1:55 pm

Just a point of order. In New Jersey, once a government agency files for condemnation of a property, construction on that property can begin within a few days of the filing.

The legal work to get to a final price to pay the owner can happen well after that condemnation action takes place.

The condemnation action does not preclude the owner of the property from filing an emergency injunction or motion to prevent construction work from proceeding.

In my professional role I have worked on several projects that cordial negotiations have worked quite well to obtain property. And others that have had to go to condemnation due to absent owners or negotiations that have gone no place.
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Postby time » Wed Mar 29, 2017 7:01 pm

Is there any work being done, or are we still in EPA review / hold?
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Postby lensovet » Sat Apr 01, 2017 6:48 pm

EPA was never involved; NJDEP was.
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Postby Jeff Smith » Tue Apr 04, 2017 1:39 pm

A thaw in the cold war?: NJHerald.com

Possible light at end of tunnel in Andover train station project

ANDOVER TOWNSHIP -- A breakthrough in the stalled Andover train station project appears possible with the state Department of Environmental Protection telling NJ Transit it will grant a waiver if an engineer will certify the soundness of a culvert on private property.

And, according to attorney John Ursin, his client gave permission for the inspection.

At a public appearance late last week, DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, when asked about the situation with getting the final permit, said, "We put the burden back on them," adding it would be up to the NJ Transit "to show us how it's going to work."

He said if an engineer's report on the culvert on the Hudson Farm West property shows no structural issues, then his department will issue a waiver.

"We're trying like hell to make it work at the end of the day," he said.
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Postby TDowling » Mon May 08, 2017 6:37 am

Culverts back near the turn of the century were probably very sturdy. I don't imagine, however, that work is unnecessary.

Very interesting read, A prime example of bureaucratic red-tape in action.
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun Jul 23, 2017 4:31 pm

Just when it looked like Odysseus, Beowulf, Aeneas, whoever, would be buried, they surface again.

This Times article is tangential to the topic, save for one relevant passage which is quoted here under Fair Use auspices :

http://nytimes.com/2017/07/21/realestat ... uting.html

Fair Use:

..New Jersey’s Sussex and Warren counties, a bucolic region of farms and broad vistas, are significantly cheaper than other exurbs in the region. But bus service is spotty and commuter rail lines began to disappear in the late 1950s with the rise of the interstate highway system. The closest trains are out of Netcong, in adjacent Morris County. Regular bus service departs from nearby Dover. Most commuters drive, which can easily take two hours or more depending on traffic.

“There is a growing influx of young families attracted by the many lakes and sprawling countryside in Sussex County,” said Scott Turner of Coldwell Banker, in Sparta. Housing inventory is high and prices are somewhat sluggish owing to, among other things, stagnant population growth. The same applies to Warren County, which is bordered by the Delaware River and in the shadow of the Poconos.
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Postby cjvrr » Sun Jul 23, 2017 7:50 pm

Don't believe what has been printed. Sussex and Warren Counties are suffering from a pretty consistent population reduction. Its been about 5% in the last 5 years. Even western Morris County is suffering from the same. Primary school student population is also declined in those same areas at rates greater than 5% and the trend is expected to continue into the next decade.
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Postby lensovet » Fri Aug 04, 2017 2:02 am

out of curiosity, why?
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Postby SecaucusJunction » Fri Aug 04, 2017 7:07 am

Jobs are not prevalent out there and people decided that commuting from that far away really sucks.
I think it may be possible that NJ Transit might not be the perfect, infallible organization that most people assume it is.
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Fri Aug 04, 2017 7:41 am

"My days/ have gone as fate willed,.../ As I knew how, swearing no unholy oaths,/ Seeking no lying wars. I can leave/ This life happy; I can die, here,/ Knowing the Lord of all life has never/ Watched me wash my sword in blood/ Born of my own family."..... "The old man's mouth was silent, spoke/ No more, had said as much as it could;/ He would sleep in the fire, soon. His soul/ Left his flesh, flew to glory."

---- Beowulf

Hath Mr. Secaucus just written the final epitaph of this epic?
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Re: Lackawanna Cutoff Passenger Service Restoration

Postby Matt Johnson » Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:58 am

SecaucusJunction wrote:Jobs are not prevalent out there and people decided that commuting from that far away really sucks.


Having lived and worked in the Poconos for a number of years, I can tell you that even commuting a few miles on those roads really sucks! Terrible winter conditions, deer everywhere (two deer collisions and many near misses during my time there), and just not well planned centralized communities but rather random sprawl for the most part. That being said, if there were a high speed link from say, Stroudsburg to Hoboken/NYC, it would totally change the dynamic I think. That area is perfectly poised to become more of a NYC suburb with the right infrastructure, and the Cutoff would be perfect for high speed rail. (It's really the existing NJT trackage that's more of an impediment, as it's not suited for high speed.)

Scranton on the other hand...shame to see it go downhill but even the cool places that did exist there when I was local seem to have all gone out of business, so I gather that downtown Scranton has been on the decline. And at 133 rail miles from Hoboken, that's a little beyond ideal commuter range without Shinkansen speeds!
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