Inside Ocean County Government

Lacey, Land Use, Opinion

OPINION: Rail Trail Road Critics are Over the Top

Drone photo of the railroad right of way. (Gavin Rozzi)

I continue to listen, with fascination, to the arguments presented by ½ dozen member group of wannabes (that is, wanna be somewhere else besides next to the railroad right of way, soon to become a road ), and Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club.

They continue to be over the top!

Has anyone lost sight of the fact that TRAINS used to ride over this easement? This is a 50′ wide railroad right of way. Can one use their imagination with that revelation?

Drone photo of the railroad right of way. (Gavin Rozzi)

According to the Jersey Central Railroad Historical Society, “The Toms River Railroad was purchased by the CNJ in 1881 and operated as part of the NJS division, the Toms River and Waretown Railroad Company extended it to Waretown and, in 1893 it was extended to Barnegat. It ceased to function in the early 60’s.” That track bed existed for more than 80 years before it was removed. Trains moved over that track bed for the same length of time discharging waste of all sorts within that right of way. Use your imagination! Read more at this link.

They speak of this “PRISTINE” old railroad right of way and endear it as the “RAIL TRAIL” and cannot even contemplate the oxymoron that they have espoused.

In the 1800’s railroad track was originally laid on creosote ties over crushed stone used for ballast. “The ties were of the coal-tar variety. The coal-tar variety, having stronger and more toxic properties, has chiefly been used as a preservative for wood. Coal-tar creosote had also, in the past, been used as an escharotic to burn malignant skin tissue and in dentistry to prevent necrosis but no longer is used that way because of its toxic, carcinogenic properties and because better and safer treatments are now available.” See more at this link.

Notwithstanding the aforementioned “coal-tar creosote ties”, as recently as the 1980’s, New Jersey Natural Gas Company obtained an easement in the right of way from Berkeley Township to Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Lacey Township. They spent a fortune on the environmental study that allowed them to bury a 20″ high pressure gas pipeline in the easement all the way to the nuclear plant. Imagine that! A 20″ high pressure gas main. That study also allowed them to raze all of the vegetation on the entire right of way to allow them to bury said pipe. So much for a claim of “an aged old forest” being destroyed.

Incidentally, there have been 365 pipeline accidents since the year 2000 in the United States and they are specifically listed here. 

There is also additional information on pipeline accidents for the years 1900 thru 1949, 1950 thru 1974 and 1975 thru 1999 at the following URL.

More recently, 51 Gas Pipeline explosions between 2001 and 2011 can be reviewed along with some video footage here. Fascinating video! Frightening actually. “Coal-tar creosote ties” for over 80 years? Trains and more trains dumping toilet waste (and who knows what else?) all along the right of way? Thousands of pipeline accidents and explosions throughout the country? And, a high pressure 20″ Gas Pipeline that was installed almost 32 years ago?
“This is a very scenic area that people use for recreation, walking with their families or taking bike rides with their kids. Putting a road through this area not only fills in wetlands and takes down trees, but ruins a scenic open space area that people use and enjoy. We have plenty of roads in New Jersey, but we have very few rails to trails in areas like this,” Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club said in a reprint in The Forked River Gazette, 01/2015.

I just can’t visualize Jeff Tittel riding his bike down this right of way with his grandchildren in the near future! It is time that you all realized that putting a road (capping of asphalt) over top of this creosote soaked toxic dump site with a 32 (+,-) year old aging 20″ high pressure gasline running under it is not such a bad idea after all!

How does the Sierra Club continue to advocate this as a pristine natural resource?

Alan Baker

President, HAG Holding, Inc.
A former owner of the rail road right of way from South Toms River to Barnegat

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