A team of frustrated Hasbrouck Heights commuters, who say they can no longer get to New York City via the local NJ Transit rail stop thanks to the construction of a 300-foot fence, got to at least open the gate to possibly resolving the issue by airing their woes to representatives from the transit company Tuesday night.
As a safety measure, NJ Transit constructed the fence on the Hasbrouck Heights side of the tracks at the Teterboro-Williams stop to keep people from crossing the tracks, however it has caused a number of hardships for commuters who once easily walked to and from the stop every day to ride the train to their New York City offices.
NJ Transit representatives agreed to Mayor Rose Heck's request to meet with the commuters in order to hear them out and report back to the officials in Newark to possibly find some kind of solution.
A number of residents came forward including Lino Brescia, who started the movement against NJ Transit by way of a petition that has 80 signatures and counting.
He says the so-called safety measure actually puts him and other commuters in more danger as the only access to the stop by foot is by walking over Route 46 which has no sidewalks. He says he believes the odds that he could get hit by a car are higher than the odds someone will get hit by a train by crossing the tracks at that station.
Through his own research, Brescia has found that the number of fatalities that have occured on tracks have been self-inflicted. He says there are numerous other train stops such as Essex Street in Newark where vehicles drive over the tracks and pedestrians cross the tracks daily.
Those who came forward suggested the construction of a pedestrian walkway as a better solution so Hasbrouck Heights residents could still access the stop easier and safely.
Lack of parking at the stop also keeps residents from easily accessing the Teterboro stop, something which John Leon, NJ Transit director of government and community relations, said he would look into as a possible way of resolving the issue.
The issue of lack of rail access is causing some residents to consider leaving the borough.
Brian McCourt says he and his girlfriend are looking for a new place to live now that her commute takes her well over an hour each way by bus and that is when there is no major backup in the tunnel.
He says he loves the town and everything about it. One of the reasons he came to Hasbrouck Heights was because of the train stop just three blocks from his apartment.
"Safety is fantastic, I applaud it but at the same time you kind of choked us," McCourt said.
Cutting off access to the rail from Hasbrouck Heights cuts off revenue to the town, said Matt Maginley who pointed to the need for the rail service in the borough which has two hotels, one which is international, and the Super Bowl which the Meadowlands is hosting next year.
He said Heights has a larger population than neighboring Wood-Ridge yet they have a train stop with about 200 parking spaces and a second rail stop is being built in that town.
For Dan Powers who once was able to walk two blocks from his home to the train stop at Teterboro, the lack of access to the local train stop means giving up quality time with his children in the morning in order to leave early enough to try to get a parking space at the Wood-Ridge train stop.
As for future access to the local trail stop, Leon pledged that all the commuters' input will be taken seriously and considered towards some kind of resolve.
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