COURT HOUSE – Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew (D-1st) is supporting a proposal to extend train service from Cape May to Richland in Buena Vista Township, Atlantic County.
To bring about the extended service, tracks from Court House to Woodbine would need repairs at a cost of $1 million a mile or $10 million for the 10-mile span of rails. The track work would link the existing operational Cape May Seashore Lines route from Court House to Tuckahoe where Conrail, NJ Transit and the state Department of Transportation operate the present line to Richland.
Cape May Seashore Lines currently operates trains in the summer from Cape May to Middle Township Elementary School 2 in Court House and ran excursions last fall from Tuckahoe to Richland.
Van Drew said he was contacted by the mayors of Buena Vista Township and Woodbine with interest in the project.
“There would be a direct linkage from Cape May, all the way to Richland, and all the tourist spots and areas of interest in between,” said Van Drew.
Richland has a restored train station, as does Tuckahoe, he said.
“I believe it is important that, at a minimum, Cape May, Cape May Point, West Cape May, Woodbine, and the townships of Lower, Middle, Dennis, Upper, and Buena Vista stand united in support of this issue,” said Van Drew.
He is asking for the governing bodies of those municipalities to pass resolutions in support of the project, which will be forwarded to U.S. Rep, Frank LoBiondo (R-2nd), who is attempting to get federal funding.
The resolutions will also be forwarded to Sen. Nicholas Asselta (R-1st) and Assemblyman Nelson Albano (D-1st) and to Van Drew to seek state funding.
Van Drew said the expanded train service could serve as an economic boost for inland communities and general economic development all along the route and would reduce traffic congestion, have a favorable impact on tourism, and could be an additional option for evacuating residents during natural disasters or homeland security incidents.
Most of the interest in the expanded train service has come from Upper Township, Buena Vista Township, and Woodbine, said Van Drew.
He said he first wants to gauge the level of interest.
“We would eventually like to connect Richland to Winslow Township which would offer connections to (train) routes to Atlantic City and Philadelphia,” said Van Drew.
A meeting on the topic of expanded rail service was held in Dennis Township two weeks ago.
Attending were: Dennis Township Mayor Ruth Blessing and Deputy Mayor John Murphy, Upper Township Mayor Richard Palombo, Buena Vista Township Mayor Chuck Chiarelllo and Deputy Mayor Theresa Kelly, Woodbine Mayor William Pikolycky, Middle Township Mayor Nathan Doughty, and Cape May Seashore Lines President Tony Macrie.
The state invested nearly $1.3 million for repair of five miles of track from Tuckahoe to Woodbine in May 2005, which allows freight service to Woodbine.
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