20 November 2007

Location, Location, Location

Are you ready for rail service to return to Hillsborough? The project to restore service to the West Trenton Line is on track(!), and trains could be chugging into Hillsborough Station within 10 years - certainly within 20.

It's not too early to begin thinking about what having a New Jersey Transit train station in Hillsborough will do to our community. NJ Transit is looking for public comments on the project, and will be holding a meeting at the municipal complex on November 29 from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

Along with the station comes the idea of a "transit village" - a commercial and residential development around the station, designed, in essence, for rail commuters. This is an idea that the state is pushing - and it seems inevitable. This is one of the reasons that the eventual location of the station should be paramount.

I am not convinced that the placement of a Hillsborough train station near Amwell Road and Clerico Lane is in the best interests of the town. Isn't there a better spot for "the village"?

I'll have more thoughts on this in a couple of days. Think it over and let me have your ideas in the comments section of the blog. Choo Choo!


  1. I agree with you that placing a railroad station near Amwell and Clerico isn't a great idea.

    How about Homestead Road at the railroad bridge?

    It's next to a light industrial/commercial area and a cell tower with the remainder surrounded by fields, not near any homes,convenient to Route 206, and wouldn't add a lot of traffic on Amwell Road.

  2. I'm not sure where it should be put but a few months ago my wife and I were thinking of buying a house in the Roycebrook Road neighborhood. Great house and an OK price but we decided not to buy because of several reasons. First is that the 206 bypass will be about 2000 feet away from that area and it will be elevated over Amwell Road...that means you will hear road noise and will have construction for a couple years. Second, the home was a couple hundred feet away from the tracks which already has active freight trains coming through. In 20 years it could have commuter lines as well. Put the train station on Amwell and Clerico and you'll also hear the whistles (no quiet zone for the train station).

    Of course it's not all bad news for that neighborhood, having a train station walking distance from your home will probably increase the property value as well. And eventually you may be bike-ride distance from your new town center. But, after some thought, that area had too many questions marks for us to buy there.

  3. Mike - I certainly understand your concern - in fact, my own husband shares it - but you missed a great neighborhood here. Honestly, this one is a winner, bypass and transit village or not.

    Regarding the location of that station, while it was originally proposed to be at Amwell Road in '96, our neighborhood civic association sucessfully petitioned the township committee and all subsequent candidates up until 2003 to keep the location AWAY from Amwell Road. The location favored between 1997 and about 2004 was at Sunnymead Rd just north of Hamilton, just above the brick factory. (See a resolution I had passed at the TC on Feb 11, 1997 where the present Amwell Rd location was nixed.)

    During master plan phase 2 discussions, it was decided that the traffic patterns on Amwell, being the major E-W corridor, made the present location a generally more logical one, for various reasons. At that time I agreed, and I still basically do, although this puts the large transit village in my own back yard. So much for accusing me of NIMBYism.

    I did advocate for scaling the transit village down to a reasonable size, and only voted yes to the master plan when the planning board "discovered" what I already knew and my husband wanted me to reiming them of - that during our initial talks with the DOT back in 1996, the DOT promised to reforest much of the land now proposed to be this transit village. On re-examination, the present (2005) planning board re-discovered that yes, the DOT still intended to reforrest much of this land. That alone served to scale back the scope of the transit village, and allowed me to render a "yes" vote on the entire plan AT THAT TIME. I never loved the residences above the stores, but Bob Ringleheim strongly claimed we needed all the residential to satisfy COAH, and Steve Sireci rightly indicated that we needed a pretty enticing "carrot" to encourage businesses to tear down and rebuild according to the Town Center plan if we weren't going to enact a redevelopment zone (which we did not intend to inflict, at that time." That was then, when I was still on the planning board.

    Do know that the Homestead Road location that you refer to is strongly constricted by wetlands. It was hard enough to get the bypass through that area - I don't think it can possibly be considered for a transit village or even a train station with parking.

    Hope my recollections are of help.