RARITAN, NJ - With discussions stalled as the borough continues to try and reach NJ Transit for assistance with idling trains in the area of Weiss Terrace, council members have taken the fight to the next level.
Sen. Michael Doherty was recently called in to tour the area of town affected by idling trains on the tracks, and was asked to connect with NJ Transit to get something done to protect the residents.
Weiss Terrace resident Vic Laggini has been speaking before the council for more than a year regarding the issue of idling trains on the NJ Transit line, and council members have reached out, but have not gotten anywhere with regard to fixing the issue.
According to councilman Zachary Bray, they had some success in getting NJ Transit to stop idling the trains behind residents’ houses months ago, but things have gotten worse again.
“The residents have told me of the problems they had for a while, and then they went away, and now it’s come back,” Doherty said. “There is air pollution and more, and it’s causing a quality of life and health issue.”
Doherty said residents are expressing concern about the sound of the trains at 120 decibels idling behind their homes at 2 a.m. every day.
“That’s ridiculous,” he said. “A lawn mower is 120 decibels, and a restaurant is 80. Imagine someone cutting your lawn at two in the morning.”
“This is a real problem, and it seems like it should be able to be fixed,” he added.
Bray has said at previous meetings that he has been to Laggini’s home, and the smell from the trains is so overwhelming, residents can’t sit outside.
Laggini has said that NJ Transit agreed to stop idling the trains in that area, and they weren’t for a while, but have since started again.
Another resident said she is finding black soot on the aluminum siding of her house from the trains idling, and there has been soot found on the playground at John F. Kennedy Primary School. She said when she spoke to NJ Transit, they said they keep them idling because they are afraid the trains won’t turn back on if they are turned off.
“But why is that our problem?” she asked.
Resident James Foohey suggested that if NJ Transit is not willing to make any changes, maybe the borough should file a complaint with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
“They can conduct an investigation, and I’m sure NJ Transit will not be too pleased about that,” he said. “I think that is definitely an option because the DEP takes things like that seriously.”
Doherty told the council and residents that he would begin to look into the issue and report back soon.