Lawmakers Want Independent Investigation into Flooding Blamed on Disabled N.J. Transit Train

A group of New Jersey state lawmakers plan to introduce legislation requiring an independent investigation of the flooding of Bound Brook that occurred after a disabled N.J. Transit train blocked the town’s protective floodgates from closing during Hurricane Ida.

“It’s extremely concerning that the $300 million floodgate system that was put in place to protect Bound Brook from flooding was defeated by a disabled NJ Transit train that shouldn’t have been running,” state Sen. Michael Doherty, R-23, said in a statement. “We need a transparent, independent review of this incident to understand what processes failed during Ida to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

Although flash flood warnings had been issued due to extremely high rainfall projections as the remnants of Hurricane Ida passed over New Jersey, Raritan Valley Line Train #5450 attempted to operate in the extremely flood-prone area.

The train became stuck as the track was washed over by floodwaters and debris. A later attempt to close Bound Brook’s floodgates to protect the town from Raritan River flooding couldn’t be implemented since the train was blocking one of the gates.

“We had National Weather Service warnings that flash floods were likely along the Raritan Valley Line as a result of Ida, along with numerous reports of actual flooding by the time the train was stuck,” Assemblyman John DiMaio, R-23, said in a statement. “Why didn’t New Jersey Transit or Governor Murphy take the warnings seriously enough? Why didn’t anyone think to halt the trains in a safe place after flooding was reported? Because of these failures, Bound Brook flooded yet again.”

Bound Brook’s flood control systems include thousands of feet of levees and floodwalls, pump stations, and three floodgates, including the gate at the NJ Transit crossing that was blocked by Train #5450.

“While it took decades to plan and build Bound Brook’s flood control system, it took just seconds for a stuck train to prevent it from working,” state Assemblyman Erik Peterson, R-23, said in a news release.

“Since NJ Transit may bear some legal liability for the flood damage to homes and businesses that resulted, we shouldn’t leave it up to them to tell us what went wrong,” Peterson added. “We need an impartial, independent review to ensure that the people of Bound Brook get the honest answers they deserve.”

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