Borough, Township Oppose Proposed Rail-Truck Depot
Just one day after Princeton Township Committee unanimously created a resolution declaring opposition to a proposal to build a rail-to-truck facility off Route 206 in Hillsborough, Princeton Borough Council followed suit with a similar measure.
The move signals a regional backlash against the so-called "transload" facility that has legislators in the Princetons, and Lawrence and Montgomery townships, wary of the traffic nightmare the facility might create.
The rail-to-truck transfer point would be developed on a 165-acre former U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs depot off Route 206 about two miles south of the Duke Estate in Hillsborough. The California-based firm, Industrial Realty Group (IRG), which focuses on acquiring large excess corporate and government properties, has reportedly signed a 35-year enhanced lease with the DVA. The enhancement status of the lease allows IRG to move forward with the project without going through formal local planning processes.
The proposed facility could generate 10 truck trips for every rail car that is loaded or unloaded, according to Sandy Solomon, chair of the Borough Traffic and Transportation Committee. Ms. Solomon, along with State Road resident Don Greenberg, appeared before Council and Committee to make their cases.
Under the umbrella of Citizens for a Safer Route 206, Mr. Greenberg and Ms. Solomon and other residents involved have received 1,500 signatures on a petition posted on www.stateroad206.org. "Those trucks are either going to go south or come from the south to pick up goods, and once the trucks are on 206, they'll be coming through the center of our town," Ms. Solomon said adding that no environmental impact studies (EIS) have been conducted for the project.
Hillsborough Township Committee is largely in favor of the project, with the exception of Committeeman Paul Drake, who won a term on the Township's governing body in November with a platform that included his opposition to the transload facility.
The resolution passed by Borough Council last Tuesday essentially asked the state to stop the creation of a transload facility until EIS have been conducted and to ask the state not to fund a $2.2 million grant requested by IRG to improve the current rail infrastructure.
Both Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Ewing) and Asm. Reed Gusciora (D-Princeton Borough) are said to have voiced their concern with the transload facility with New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Jack Lettiere. Councilwoman Wendy Benchley worried that such a facility in Hillsborough would serve as the "major hub" for deliveries going in and out of areas in Pennsylvania and points west.
"There are no answers to half the questions we've asked," she said.
Similar resolutions from Lawrenceville and Montgomery are being weighed.