Most county residents surveyed favor rail line

Published in the Asbury Park Press 8/28/03

TOMS RIVER -- A survey commissioned by the freeholder boards of Ocean and Monmouth counties indicates that most people in the two counties, as well as a majority in Middlesex County, favor the Monmouth-Ocean-Middlesex, or MOM, line, which would link the three counties by light rail.

That was the conclusion drawn by McLaughlin & Associates, the Virginia-based research firm hired by the counties earlier this year to measure public opinion on the issue.

"This survey demonstrates that residents are looking for, and are ready to support, smart ways to reduce traffic congestion and manage growth," Ocean County Freeholder James J. Mancini said.

The survey's findings -- which claim that 78 percent of residents interviewed in all three counties who understand what the MOM line is favor it -- were presented to the Ocean County board yesterday and will be presented to the Monmouth County freeholders tonight.

Both boards favor a rail line that would run from Lakehurst, north and west, eventually ending at Monmouth Junction in South Brunswick, Middlesex County.

There are two other possible light rail alignments under discussion. One would run from Lakehurst to Red Bank. The other would go from Lakehurst to Matawan.

There has been continued resistance to the MOM line from several Middlesex County towns through which the line would pass.

The state is preparing a draft Environmental Impact Study for the $400 million project, which is expected to be ready in Spring 2004, after which there will be a round of public hearings.  The EIS is needed before the Federal Transit Administration can pass judgment on the project. With FTA approval, the project would qualify for federal funding.

Joseph Picard: (732) 557-5738 or [email protected]

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