Gone, But Not Forgotten
In recent days workmen have been busily tearing up
railroad track on the Erie Lackawanna right-of-way between Andover Junction
and Newton. Somehow we get the idea that the railroad does not plan
to use the Sussex County route again within the foreseeable future.
The removal of the rails appears to be conclusive.
Passenger and freight service between Andover Junction and Branchville
through Newton was discontinued just about a year ago. The action was
greeted locally by cries of dismay. County and municipal officials at
the time said the action showed a "complete lack of foresight" on the
part of the railroad company and the Interstate Commerce Commission,
which granted approval. Local officials pointed out the discontinuance
of rail service to the heart of the county came at a time when the county
is on the brink of a gigantic population, economic and industrial explosion.
But even as the service was discontinued, officials
here hoped that something could be done to retain the tracks and roadbed
for possible future use. Then there was some talk that an effort was
being made quietly to interest entrepreneurs in taking over the rail
line for local operation, but still tied in with the main line railroad.
Now, with the rails gone, the last hope of saving the line evaporates.
What is to become of the right-of-way and roadbed?
Will the county or state become interested in it for highway development?
Will it be bought up to be used as a right-of-way for gas or water transmission
lines as other abandoned railroad lines in the county have been.
Since the state has plans for dualizing Route 206 and
building a bypass around Newton, it is possible that the railroad right-of-way
might fit in with the improvement plans. The removal of rails might
also open the door for the county freeholders to do something at long
last about the elimination of the underpass where the Newton-Sparta
road makes a right angle turn at drake's Pond to squeeze under the railroad
Although the railroad service and tracks are gone,
there are still some residuary questions that remain. In other words,
gone, but not forgotten.