Upgrades and maintenance focus of discussion at Metuchen Train Station

METUCHEN – For New Jersey Transit’s Metuchen Train Station – ranked 10th highest ridership on the Northeast Corridor Line and 14th highest ridership on the entire service line – communication is key among the four entities charged with upgrades and maintenance.

Metuchen Mayor Jonathan Busch and Borough Administrator Jay Muldoon had a “productive” discussion with representatives of NJ Transit at the train station on May 9. The mayor said the discussion was made possible through the office of U.S. Senator Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex), who chairs the Senate’s Transportation Committee.

“It was helpful to walk through the station and show them some of the issues,” he said.

The Metuchen Train Station is one of the defining features of the borough, Busch said.

“Having and maintaining a train station that attracts people like [the Metuchen Train Station] comes with its [issues],” he said, nothing the station ranks just behind stations in Trenton, Newark Penn Station and MetroPark in Iselin.

Busch said the most significant issues for commuters – on average 3,600 a day – is the limited platform.

“In reality a new [regular] platform or extended platform would [cost] tens of millions of dollars,” he said.

Busch said some of the improvements by NJ Transit is already in the works, including fixing the concrete on the platform, which is dangerously uneven in some places, working on filling and evening out surfaces, and fixing broken glass.

“At some point, the wood paneling above the Metuchen writing on the bridge [will be replaced] with some kind of clear plexiglass material,” he said, noting the wood paneling was installed in the 1970s.

Officials said in and around the station, it may get confusing on who is responsible for maintenance. Muldoon reported that NJ Transit is responsible for the stairwells, platform and walkways. As for the sidewalks underneath the station, the borough is responsible.

He said he believes the sidewalk will be replaced through the large North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) grant the borough was awarded last year.

The borough received a $9.3 million grant NJTPA grant in January 2018 to help with the problem of trucks striking the Main Street railroad bridge. The grant for the project is through the NJTPA’s fiscal year 2017-18 local safety program, which is federally funded, using highway safety improvement program funds.

The grant includes funding for design, construction and construction inspection services. The funds will be used to support Metuchen’s efforts to improve public safety, pedestrian safety, traffic signals and eliminate trucks from striking the Main Street railroad bridge, which is overseen by Amtrak, NJ Transit, the county and the borough.

Busch said on their walkthrough, it was discussed about who is responsible for an area over the fence that has become a “beer can garden.” He said in certain situations like the “beer can garden,” it is better for the borough to do the cleanup rather than wait for approvals.