Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

The rehabilitation of the Chester Branch Railroad, a four mile rail line in Roxbury Township, is now complete.

To mark the completion of the project, the Morris County Freeholders and several other dignitaries took turns with a hammer and drove a golden spike into a railroad tie on the tracks in Roxbury during a ceremony on May 11.

In April 2010, the county was awarded $5.8 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to fund this rehabilitation project. The funds were directed to the county through the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.

The active freight line now serves Roxbury commercial users, but with the rehabilitation, the freeholders said it has the potential to also serve customers in Randolph, in particular the former Westinghouse site, now the BETA Corporate Park.

Freeholder Gene Feyl, first vice chairman of the NJTPA, said rail is once again becoming the more cost effective and efficient means of transportation.

“If we are to relieve congestion on our highways, mitigate air pollution and move people and goods rapidly, efficiently and economically, the only conclusion must be in the restoration of a robust rail network,” Feyl said.

Feyl said since one rail car is approximately equivalent to four tractor trailers, the efficient use of Chester Branch rail line has the potential to reduce truck traffic along major roadways in the county.

The Chester Branch freight line was donated to the county by Jack Holland, owner of Holland Industries, in October 2009, and the Morristown & Erie Railway has a management agreement with the county to continue to operate on the Chester Branch.

The M&E also operates the two other county-owned rail lines: the High Bridge Branch and the Dover & Rockaway Railroad.

The Chester Branch connects to the High Bridge Branch, and these two lines connect to the NJ Transit line near the Roxbury – Rockaway Township border, allowing businesses along these branches to connect to the national rail freight network.

More information about the Chester Branch Rail Project may be found on the Morris County Division of Transportation web site, www.MorrisDOT.org.