Posted Thursday, April 29th, 2010

The Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders on April 26 awarded a contract to the firm Railroad Construction Company, Inc., of Paterson to rehabilitate the rail line that extends from Wharton to Roxbury known as the Chester Branch.

The money, $5,086,130, comes from federal stimulus funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The four-mile active freight line now serves Roxbury commercial users, but it has the potential to also serve customers in Randolph, in particular the former Westinghouse site, now the BETA Corporate Park, said Freeholder Director Gene Feyl.

“The corporate park has a rail siding serving the property, and even though there are no current railroad customers, this could change once the rehabilitation work is completed and tenants see a reliable rail service option,” Feyl said.

Efficient use of this rail line also has the potential to reduce truck traffic along major roadways in the county, Feyl said. He noted one rail car is approximately equivalent to four tractor trailers.

The freight line was donated to the county by Chester Branch, LLC, in October, 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, enabling freight service to connect throughout New Jersey and nationwide.

Details about the Chester Branch Rail Project may be found on the Morris County Transportation Division Web site, .