Somerset County and the NJTPA recently completed a study that explored ways to eliminate an at-grade rail crossing on South Main Street in Bound Brook.
The Port Reading Secondary Line crosses South Main Street at-grade. Conrail Shared Asset Operations owns and operates the line, which extends 16 miles from a junction with the Lehigh Line west of South Main Street to Port Reading on the Arthur Kill.
Up to six round-trip trains, with up to 100 railcars, use the line each day. It typically takes about 3 minutes for the trains to cross South Main Street, causing traffic to back up into Bound Brook, South Bound Brook and Middlesex Borough. During peak traffic hours, this can cause vehicle delays of 15 to 20 minutes. The nearby Raritan Valley Line and Lehigh Line cross the road on elevated rail bridges.
This project was conducted through the NJTPA’s Freight Concept Development Program. Concept development studies explore different options for addressing a problem and culminate in the selection of a preliminary preferred alternative, which can be advanced to preliminary engineering for further refinement, and then eventually construction. Stakeholders and the public are engaged to help establish which needs the study should address and consider the various options. These studies also consider any impacts the project could have on the environment, cultural resources, and Environmental Justice communities.
Fourteen different options were developed and evaluated as part of this study. Some of the options were dismissed because they would encroach on existing businesses or the Old Stone Arch Bridge, a historic structure near the rail line. The study also briefly explored whether the road could be rerouted below the rail line, however this was not possible due to the water elevation of the adjacent Raritan River.
The preferred option recommends adding new track parallel to the Lehigh Line. A new bridge would be built to carry this track over South Main Street. This alignment also calls for new railroad bridges over the Green Brook and over River Road in Middlesex Borough as the new alignment reconnects to the existing Port Reading Secondary line. The study estimates the project would cost $53.7 million. This includes acquiring right-of-way, environmental remediation, engineering, relocating utilities and construction.
While the at-grade crossing is in Bound Brook, the study would include moving track in neighboring Middlesex Borough.
This study can be used to seek grant funding to advance the project.