Stay safe around those railroad tracks | Letters

Stay safe around those railroad tracks | Letters

Last year, New Jersey ranked 10th in the nation for its number of injuries and fatalities involving trespassing on railroad tracks. Across America, a person or vehicle is struck by a train every three hours. These are powerful statistics to reflect on as we mark Rail Safety Week, Sept. 19-25, a national event to raise awareness about safety near railroad tracks.

Education makes a difference here, led by groups like Operation Lifesaver and its New Jersey chapter. Their efforts have led to an 83% reduction in crossing collisions over the last several decades.

The best way to stay safe is by strictly obeying crossing warnings and gates. But the safest crossing is one that does not exist, and the new Grade Crossing Elimination Program, part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, provides record federal government grant funding to upgrade crossings with improved gates and other technology, as well as to fully separate crossings. The goal of the grant is to improve the safety and mobility of people and goods.

Railroads are vital to New Jersey’s way of life, moving people and goods efficiently while cutting down on congestion and air pollution. Together, through both education and action, we can prevent avoidable tragedies on New Jersey’s rails.

Emily Traiforos, New Jersey State Director, GoRail

Note: GoRail is a nonprofit and advocacy organization that mainly represents the nation’s private-sector freight railroads.

What about what Dems can’t scrub away?

In the recent Star-ledger editorial “NJ Republicans can’t scrub their party’s abortion extremism,” you ignore what Democrats can’t scrub away.

In no particular order: a disastrous retreat from Afghanistan including leaving 1,000 Americans behind enemy lines; a COVID-19 leadership failure with more dead Americans in a comparable period to Trump despite a life-saving vaccine; devastating inflation, effectively a $550 month tax on the middle class; crippling gas prices brought about partly by the party’s “jihad” against using more oil and gas, a third-world level of incompetence that led to a protracted shortage of baby formula; demonization of half the country based on their political beliefs.

I wonder which list the voters will remember in November.

Michael Pickert, Livingston

State unresponsive to school district’s flaws

Regarding the Star-Ledger editorial, “What’s NJ doing to ensure kids recover from massive learning loss? Not much:”

Underfunding of the state Department of Education not only makes it difficult for it to combat the pandemic-related learning loss among students, but also contributes to its lack of regulation and oversight over local school boards.

Over the past 20 months, the Monroe Township (Middlesex County) School District has lost an experienced board attorney, a superintendent, a business administrator and a security director. There has also been a wave of resignations among teachers.

There are credible allegations that board members promoted an administrator into the superintendent’s post even though she may have misrepresented her educational background. This has generated numerous complaints to the state education department that seem to have that have fallen on deaf ears. School ethics complaints against three board members were referred to the Office of Administrative Law, but no hearing date had been set for any of them as of the date this letter was written.

The delay in their adjudication has also prompted a lawsuit seeking to invalidate key votes due to alleged conflicts of interests of board members. The DOE’s failure to enforce the School Ethics Act in a timely fashion will embolden board members to try to break the law, and create a culture of cronyism and dishonesty in our public schools.

Sarah Aziz, Monroe Township

Sherrill to the rescue

As many veterans can attest, dealing with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is, in fact, as bad as you may have heard.

Recently, I had been requesting a copy of my medical records from the VA for over four months. Each time I was told they were behind in their work because of the pandemic. Somehow, that excuse has run its course, as far as I am concerned. Since I was under a time frame imposed by the VA to file an appeal, I needed the records in question and could not proceed without them.

I reached out to U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill’s office for any help she could provide. Within eight days, the VA was able to locate my records and send me an electronic copy.

There is no doubt without the assistance of Sherrill, D-11th Dist., I would not have received the documents I needed within the time frame established by the VA. I send a heartfelt thank you to Sherrill and her staff for their assistance.

Richard Suarez, Parsippany

Note: Sherrill faces Republican Paul DeGroot and Libertarian Joesph Biasco in her Nov. 8 bid for reelection.

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