Amtrak officials visit Scranton, Poconos, Jersey for passenger train research


Scranton, Lackawanna County, PA - An Amtrak executive and the railroad's technical staff toured potential station locations and other key landmarks Monday on the route of the proposed Scranton-to-New York City passenger train.

The Amtrak officials "wanted to eyeball what this route is going to be, so we spent the day with them," said U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-8, Moosic, who joined them on the tour.

"A lot of us hadn't seen the alignment with our own eyes. You see it on a plan or you see it on an aerial (photograph) and it's not the same," said Nicole Bucich, Amtrak's vice president of network development, while meeting with local media near the Lackawanna Transit Center in downtown Scranton.

The Scranton stop platform would be built behind the transit center if the Federal Railroad Administration decides to fund the train. Bucich said only detailed study will determine the project's construction challenges.

"Anything is doable. We just need the funding to do it," Bucich said.

Cartwright and another major local train advocate, attorney Larry Malski, and state Department of Transportation and Amtrak officials accompanied Bucich and other Amtrak staff on a car ride to key spots in northern New Jersey and Northeast Pennsylvania. They visited the Paulinskill Viaduct in New Jersey; the Delaware River viaduct between the states; a bridge on Slateford Road in Monroe County; the Andover, New Jersey, train station construction underway to extend New Jersey Transit train service there; reconstruction underway on the Roseville Tunnel; and potential station locations in East Stroudsburg, Mount Pocono and Blairstown, New Jersey.

Along the way, they met with U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey congressman whose district includes part of the route, and New Jersey Transit officials.

The transit center was their final stop. Bucich portrayed the local project as "a tremendous opportunity" to connect the region to a heavily visited destination and "to take cars off the road."

She estimated the train travel time of three hours will be competitive with existing highway travel, but will mean new economic development.