Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Manville project aims to curb railroad noise, odors, traffic

The following article concerning the Port Reading Junction in Manville, NJ is from the Courier News for Tuesday, 1-6-09.

Manville project aims to curb railroad noise, odors, traffic

Staff Writer

A railroad-restoration project now under way by Consolidated Rail Corp. aims to reduce noise, rail-traffic congestion and odors near a bustling railroad junction. The multimillion dollar project — which was unveiled to borough officials last month in a presentation given by Tim Tierney, vice president and chief engineer with Conrail and David Leymeister, project manager with Woodbridge-based Jacobs Engineering — plans to restore a section of tracks known as the Port Reading Junction Interlocking tracks. The presentation was required by the Federal Highway Administration before Conrail could move forward with its plans. It did not require approval of the Borough Council. The project is being funded jointly through Conrail and federal highway-safety grants distributed by the state Department of Transportation, Tierney said in a telephone interview Monday, Jan. 5. Work already has begun on the project and is expected to be completed this spring, he said.

The Port Reading Junction previously had served the Reading Railroad Trenton and Lehigh Valley Railroad Main Lines. It now is a major railroad junction used by Conrail, CSX and Norfolk Southern for freight operations into northeastern New Jersey from points south and west. It also is the terminus where CSX trains come from Philadelphia, and Norfolk Southern trains come from the west. Currently, Tierney said, only one train can travel at a time on the tracks, while the other train has to wait. The goal of the project is designed to eliminate wait time and lead to more efficient rail flow by eliminating a point of congestion where multiple tracks merge onto a single track, he said.

In the past, trains would stop on the tracks — some carrying loads of garbage to a nearby dump would release odors into the air and disturbed residents, Borough Administrator Gary Garwacke said Monday. "The project is designed to speed traffic along," Garwacke said. "Since the rail lines are always backed up, this will help alleviate the problem." Tierney said residents will not be affected by construction or increased sound levels during the project because work will take place only on existing property owned by Conrail.

The project will include a relocation and reconfiguration of an existing track and will involve some minor cuts to an existing road next to the mainline track. The existing track also will require maintenance work such as tie renewal and surfacing for the new crossovers and replacement of existing crossovers, said Anthony J. Scolaro, principal planner with Jacobs Engineering, in a November letter to the borough. According to the letter, there are no road crossings on the tracks and the closest residences are along Manville Avenue, East Camplain Road and Valerie Drive — about 100 feet from the project area.