"Say No To The Glassboro-Camden Light Rail Train"
"Say No To The Glassboro-Camden Light Rail Train"
Say No To GCL is a group of 2,500 plus New Jersey residents and voters who strongly oppose the currently proposed and outdated diesel polluting Glassboro-Camden Light Rail (GCL). Successful mass transit should serve the needs of its host communities and the surrounding population, and it should be self-sustaining and environmentally clean and friendly. The GCL, as currently proposed, meets none of these criteria. It is a “black carbon” producing, environmentally-devastating, unsustainable train line that will rip apart quiet communities and cost New Jersey taxpayers a whopping $2 Billion to construct and millions more to run each year. We oppose the proposed GCL for the following reasons, which we ask you to consider.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT. We are not opposed to mass transit. To the contrary, we believe in smart, environmentally friendly and fiscally responsible mass transit that will meet legislative and executive goals toward independence from fossil fuels and zero emissions in the 21st century – a goal that is imperative to fight climate change. Unfortunately, the proposed diesel electric-powered GCL train is contradictory to that. It runs on black carbon emitting diesel – a fossil fuel. As proposed, the GCL would likely not meet the criteria of the pending $1Trillion bipartisan federal Infrastructure Plan recently passed by the Senate and, it is at odds with Governor Murphy’s commitment to achieve 100% clean energy in the state by 2050 and his executive orders to combat climate change. Most specifically, Governor Murphy’s Executive Order Nr. 100, issued on January 27, 2020 directed the state DEP to identify and reduce sources of “black carbon” - the very fuel that would power the proposed GCL trains. How can our state government issue orders to reduce this greenhouse gas while at the very same time propose a new $2Billion train line that runs on it?
Even putting aside the fact that the proposed GCL runs on outdated black carbon polluting diesel, the line will have devastating long term environmental impacts to the region, including the unnecessary loss of sensitive pristine wildlife habitats and endangered species and the dangerous contamination of waterways. According to the GCL’s own environmental impact study, to make way for the new tracks, GCL will cut down thousands of mature trees and clear over 60 acres of forest, with the potential loss of the last two shingle oaks in New Jersey. It will expose and disturb the currently safe habitats of bald eagles, the barred owl, northern long eared bat and fresh water mussels and pollute environmentally sensitive waterways, including the waterways serving the Wenonah Ravine Natural Heritage Priority Site, through the release of dangerous toxins such as lead, cadmium, arsenic up to 20 PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and components of herbicides, all accumulated for over a century in the rail right of way.
PRICETAG TO TAXPAYERS. We oppose the proposed GCL because even by its most modest price tag using estimates from 2009 and failing to account for a decade of inflation for labor and materials, the proposed GCL will cost all of New Jersey residents well over $2 Billion dollars to construct and tens of millions per year to operate each year. Given the recent increases in materials, this price tag could be double or more at a time when New Jersey taxes remain the highest in the nation and other parts of our infrastructure like roads, bridges and existing mass transit are crumbling. The main proponent of the GCL, the toll-happy Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) fails to explain that the GCL will not receive any federal transportation dollars. The Federal Transit Administration rejected the proposal because it fails to meet requirements for ridership, cost-effectiveness, and commuter time savings. If you do not believe us, look at the last DRPA supported rail line, the River Line from Camden to Trenton, which has ridership so low that it has been subsidized for over 80% of its operating expenses every year by your tax dollars. Amazingly, the population centers and commuters served by the failing River Line have a much larger potential ridership than that projected for the GCL, but the DRPA and special interest groups in Trenton want to build the costly line anyway and have you pay for it.
A GIFT TO SPECIAL INTERESTS. While New Jersey taxpayers shoulder the enormous expenses of this massive spending boondoggle, certain private interests will make out like bandits. Conrail is just one of those private interests. Conrail runs the freight trains and owns the right of way on the route now proposed for the GCL. Initially, Conrail objected to the DRPA using its right of way for the GCL until the DRPA, spending your money, agreed to four “special favors” to the freight corporation even though those favors serve no purpose for the GCL or any passenger mass transit system. The favors include: (1) laying 18 miles of new freight track so that Conrail can use faster freight trains or increase the speed of existing ones; (2) building 1.5 miles of new third rail siding track in environmentally sensitive sections of the small bedroom community of Woodbury Heights, Oak Valley and Wenonah ; (3) increasing the clearance under an old stone bridge in Woodbury to allow Conrail to stack and run double decker freight trains; and (4) increasing the width of the rail bed from 14 feet to 25 feet between track centers.
BETTER MORE EFFICIENT LESS COSTLY ALTERNATIVES EXIST. The GCL plan calls for an outdated fossil fuel diesel electric train to run 18 miles alongside an existing Conrail freight line through the quiet, established towns of Glassboro, Pitman, Mantua, Wenonah, Deptford, Woodbury Heights, Woodbury, West Deptford, Westville, Bellmawr, Brooklawn, Gloucester City and into Camden. Unlike PATCO, which serves older established Camden County towns, the GCL is NOT planned to go to Philadelphia. More importantly, it would do nothing to alleviate the daily increasing traffic congestion in the highly populated municipalities of Gloucester County and beyond. Stated simply, it will not relieve any traffic congestion on the major arteries of I-295, I-76 and the 42 Freeway or densely populated portions of Route 55.
The established small towns that the GCL proposes to cut through, like historic Pitman and Wenonah, are built out with no potential growth for increased density. They do not compare in population with the large municipalities easily accessible along Routes 42 and 55. The proposed GCL will run 97 trains per day through these small towns, exposing the residents to up to a staggering 1200 high decibel sets of diesel horn blasts per day at 39 grade crossings, making the many homes, schools, places of worship and small businesses along these lines uninhabitable or unusable. Further, the DRPA and other proponents of the proposed line have failed to account for the fact that its trains will cut towns in half at busy intersections used daily by students, school buses and police, fire and emergency vehicles potentially delaying the response time of emergency services.
There is an alternative route down I-76, 42 and 55 that could be powered by clean energy trains, like PATCO, run on the existing medians and designated areas. This alternative clean energy train that would serve a large and growing population in southern Gloucester County and beyond into Cumberland County, without disturbing the environment. The DRPA does not want you to know it, but it originally proposed this alternative route after extensive study over a decade ago, but the DRPA hastily rejected it in 2009 after influence from special interests. The clean, sustainable alternative route that the DRPA has rejected could connect major medical centers along Route 55, including the new Inspira Medical Center in Mullica Hill and the Inspira Medical Center in Vineland with Cooper University Hospital in Camden and still provide a direct shuttle connection between the growing Rowan University in Glassboro and Rutgers University in Camden, without the devastating environmental impacts of the proposed GCL. The alternative route would also have a significant population base for ridership that could possibly qualify it for federal funding.
With or without building a rail line, New Jersey Transit and the South Jersey Transportation Authority should boost mass transit in the region relatively inexpensively and quickly. They can do so by upgrading the existing bus service through Gloucester County with investment in electric buses, dedicated bus lanes and improved bus stops and stations – all at a fraction of the cost of the proposed GCL. The reality is that there are cost effective, fiscally responsible and environmentally friendly alternatives to the proposed GCL, but the DRPA has ignored them.
ASKING FOR YOUR HELP AND VOICE. We are a group of concerned New Jersey taxpayers that is growing in number every day because we realize that we cannot continue to let runaway state agencies and well-heeled special interests continue to waste our hard earned money to line the pockets of a few at the expense of our environment and our towns. That out-of-control spending is evident in the boondoggle GCL.
If you would be willing to join us in this effort, please lend your voice and sign this Petition asking Governor Murphy and our state legislators in Trenton to deny funding for the Glassboro-Camden Light Rail and Conrail Freight Line improvements and to come up with cost effective, clean and sustainable mass transit for southern New Jersey and the rest of the State. Thank you.
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