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(27th DISTRICT) – NJ Transit has stopped the tree removal work along the tracks from Maplewood to South Orange, which was begun without notice to the affected communities, following a call from Assembly members John F. McKeon and Mila M. Jasey to cease the work.

In the letter sent today and addressed to NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein, McKeon and Jasey questioned why the work was begun without notification to the communities affected and urged that the removal work be stopped immediately. McKeon and Jasey also asked that Weinstein investigate the matter and provide them with an explanation for the clear-cutting.

Shortly after, a NJ Transit official responded to the letter in an email, stating that he had received a copy of the letter and the tree cutting and clearing “has stopped as of today.”

“I’m glad that NJ Transit has decided to listen to the concerns of these communities and heeded our call to stop cutting down these trees. Obviously, cutting a few select trees for track safety makes sense, but certainly not every tree has to go. Not only is this aesthetically and environmentally a bad idea, it will also impact property values near the tracks,” said McKeon. “This project started on the wrong foot by keeping residents out of the loop. Now that NJ Transit has stopped the work, we can discuss without rush what went wrong and how we can fix it.”

“When we first heard the news, we were troubled that NJ Transit would cut down these trees without explanation or notice to residents,” said Jasey. “We were extremely concerned about the impact of the work already completed, about the additional clear cutting scheduled for this project, and about the precedent this would set for NJ Transit projects across the state. I’m happy that NJ Transit decided to stop the work after hearing about our concerns, and I look forward to more discussions with NJ Transit officials about what’s next for this project.”

Jasey and McKeon have requested an emergency meeting with NJ Transit to discuss all aspects of the current clear-cutting plan.