Thursday, October 4, 2012

Reviving An Old Track: The Great Lackawanna Cutoff

1898 ad
Delaware Water Gap viaduct
NY Penn Station to Scranton, PA

NEW JERSEY TRANSIT'S decision to restore the old Lackawanna Cutoff railroad line pumped new blood into my arteries, not only because of my love affair with trains, but also because the project will inevitably impact my town of Hopatcong. Once opened, the 88-mile line will be a branch of the currently running Montclair-Boonton and Morristown lines (between New York Penn Station and Hackettstown, New Jersey), and will begin at Port Morris Junction near the Lake Hopatcong station, to Scranton, Pennsylvania, through the Pocono Mountains. NY Senator Chuck Schumer has proposed to entend the line further north to Binghamton, New York.

Some background from Wikipedia: "The old Lackawanna Cutoff railroad line was built by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad in 1908, and was operated until 1979 until it was abandoned in 1983. It was known by other names like the "New Jersey Cutoff," the "Hopatcong-Slateford Cutoff," the "Lackawanna Highline," or simply the "Cutoff". Noted for its immense cuts, fills, embankments and viaducts that permitted high-speed operations, it was part of a 400-mile mainline that ran from Hoboken, New Jersey to Buffalo, New York, and was once an exemplar of early 20th century rail infrastructure and right-of-way construction. With minimized grades and curves, it was built without vehicular crossings, and included a series of unique structural features, viaducts and massive fill embankments through the deep valleys of this region. One of the first railroad projects to use reinforced concrete on a large scale, its construction required the movement of millions of tons of fill material using techniques similar to those on the Panama Canal."  

The Lackawanna Cutoff restoration project, if completed as planned by the New Jersey Transit and the Pennsylvania Northeast Region Railroad Authority in 2014, will use diesel locomotive-driven commuter rail trains, cost some $550 million to build, and take commuters through some of America’s most beautiful scenic landscapes. Travel time between New York Penn Station and Scranton, Pennsylvania will be about three hours.

Here are pictures of the rail line, especially of the work being done on the Brooklyn-Stanhope Road (County Road 602) grade crossing site, near Kynor Avenue where my house is. (It is somewhere behind the trees above the United Methodist Church sign and the car on the road on the upper left corner.)  For a bit of Lake Hopatcong train station's history, click on this link.
Work near my house on Kynor Avenue
Lake Hopatcong station

View near Greendell, New Jersey