Best use for Lackawanna Cutoff is recreation, not a commuter rail boondoggle | Letter

For years people have been hiking and biking on abandoned parts of the Lackawanna Cutoff. It’s an important part of New Jersey’s railroad history, especially the scenic viaduct over the Paulins Kill.

New Jersey is considering extending the Lackawanna Cutoff past the viaduct to Scranton, which doesn’t make sense. NJ Transit is broke and doesn’t have the money to operate existing lines. The viaduct should be incorporated into our trails network. This would make a great rails-to-trails project and would connect to existing trails like the Delaware Water Gap and Columbia.

Hikers, bikers, and climbers are using the Paulinskill Viaduct. It should be turned into a trail to help develop recreational tourism and support the local economy.

Expanding the cutoff isn’t economically feasible; it would be a four-hour train ride from Scranton to New York. New Jersey would be subsidizing Pennsylvania commuters even though New Jersey doesn’t have money to take care of its own, especially with ridership down because of coronavirus.

NJ Transit shouldn’t be throwing money away on this damaging project. It should be making improvements in areas that need it to get more cars off the road. This includes expanding the Bergen Light Rail, electrifying the Raritan Valley Line, and building the Monmouth Ocean Middlesex Line. Turning this viaduct into a recreational trail would be an important step forward when it comes to protecting open space and public health.

Jeff Tittel

Director, New Jersey Sierra Club


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