Transportation becomes topic of discussion at Howell council meeting

HOWELL – Municipal officials spoke about mass transit in Howell during a recent discussion regarding transportation and circulation throughout the municipality.

During the Feb. 9 meeting of the Township Council, a resident sent officials an email asking about Howell’s master plan, which is the document that establishes guidelines for the growth and development of a municipality. The resident’s question led to a discussion about reviewing traffic studies and circulation plans.

Councilman John Bonevich called it “common sense” that Howell’s roads would not be reclassified to a lower level after 25 years. He said roads like Route 33 and Route 34 have seen an increase of thousands of cars a day over a period of decades.

Bonevich said reclassifying roads could open Howell to commercial projects such as a proposed solid waste transfer facility on Randolph Road and the proposed Monmouth Commerce Center warehouses on Randolph Road.

“If roads (like Randolph Road) were reclassified, we would have that warehouse, we would have that dump,” Bonevich said.

Mayor Theresa Berger said her questions about circulation regarded mass transit.

“I was reading up on it and in the last plan that they looked at for circulation, they talked about not wanting to put any mass transit in town. Why wouldn’t we look at that? If we have a lack of transportation in our town, which we certainly do, why aren’t we looking at the other aspects of circulation or transportation?” she asked.

There are bus lines along Route 9 in Howell that take commuters to and from New York City and other locations every day.

Berger suggested a connection to a rail line, stating, “By connecting maybe the rail, and trying to figure out through the state if we can have that rail go through Howell, we already have a piece in there.

“There are people who travel back and forth from here to northern New Jersey, or to southern New Jersey, and the only way to get there is by car. So that puts a disservice to a lot of people in town, who cannot get even to Brick Township, or cannot get even up Route 9 or down Route 9, to be able to find a job,” she said.

“We are looking at trying to change secondary roads to make them sub-collector roads to be able to increase so we can grow volume on those roads, but we are not looking at the mass transit that we might use in the town, that can connect into other towns. That might be more beneficial to other people who live here vs. the people who want to just come in and build here,” Berger said.

Two weeks later, during the Feb. 23 council meeting, Township Attorney Joseph Clark said he looked into what had been discussed several weeks earlier.

“Having a rail spur or a rail line put into Howell would be a massive undertaking. It would take decades most likely. I can look into it further, but for now we do have the Route 9 bus transit that goes straight into (New York City). I can continue looking into it though; it is going to be a very difficult uphill battle to get rail service,” Clark told municipal officials.

Berger said it would be nice to know, stating, “The information is good for us to have, so if you could look into it, it would be beneficial.”