Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Plainfield as waste storage site: Mayor in the game or out of the loop?

Construction waste will have to go someplace. The question is where?
Is Plainfield Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs party to backroom deal-making on using a Plainfield site to store construction waste on an enormous scale, or is she, as seems to be increasingly the case, out of the loop?

Rumors are beginning to circulate that one plan for the huge amounts of rubble and construction debris to be generated by a planned overpass on Route 22 in Somerset County would be to truck it to a site in the Queen City, where it would be dumped.

That would involve, it is said, seventy (70) giant dump trucks full of debris and spewing clouds of dust, rumbling through the city, pounding the streets of Plainfield mercilessly at least five days a week for the duration of the project.

Plainfielders may be forgiven if they have not been following the Route 22 proposal closely.

Here's the gist: The Courier (see here) and the Ledger (see here) began reporting last June on the proposal by the state's Department of Transportation and Somerset County to build an overpass over the busy Route 22 at the Chimney Rock Road crossing in Bridgewater. Part of the project would also eliminate the current -- and dangerous -- turnaround from the westbound to the eastbound lanes, as well as relocating a lightly used freight rail spur to the new overpass.

The project is estimated to cost $60 million, of which $15 million is in the form of a Congressional earmark set aside by Rep. Rodney Freylinghuysen (see here), and included in NJDOT's 2011 Capital Expenditures plan (see here, PDF).

The project, which is expected to take two years to complete, was originally thought to get under way in 2010, but has been delayed.

Rumors are beginning to circulate that part of the reason for the delay has been figuring out what to do with the rubble and construction debris that will have to be removed as part of the project.

And that is where Plainfield comes in. One of the options hoped for by some involved in the project is said to be for Plainfield to be willing to accept the mountains of rubble that will be generated by the removal of the existing roadway, soil and other debris to the former Plainfield rail freight station at North Avenue and Richmond Street.

There is a large tract of vacant land along the Conrail
right-of-way adjacent to the Reinco building (upper center).

The former Railway Express Agency building is currently occupied by Reinco, which sells to the landscape contractor and soil erosion control industries. An aerial view of the property shows a large, unoccupied tract adjacent to the Reinco building along the Conrail right-of-way.

As Plainfield struggles with attracting transit-oriented development along its rail corridor and gaining a coveted 'Transit Village' designation from the State, the prospect of condos gazing out on mountains of concrete rubble are apt to cause potential developers dyspepsia.

But for now, the question remains whether Mayor Robinson-Briggs is in the game or out of the loop?

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

Dan - That property may be owned by NJT. It is not city owned.

Anonymous said...

Why would they truck all that debris to Plainfield, when there is a Quarry right next door???

Dan said...

@ 8:53 AM: Where did I say it was city-owned?

Anonymous said...


The PMUA transfer station has much more vacant land at the west end of their property to store debris. It would be a chance for Plainfield to earn some revenue while the traffic would be mostly in Somerset County. I don't think Green and the Mayor could shake down NJDOT for friendly contracts and campaign contributions, though. Maybe that is why they haven't jumped into the loop.

Cynicism aside, I think there are too many alternative sites for permanent disposal, such as the quarry already mentioned, to make a location in Plainfield a viable option.

Anonymous said...

NO! NO! NO! This garbage must be kept out of Plainfield and redirected to one of Somerset County's municipalities.

I hope that people will be as vocal and active about preventing this from happening as they have been about the recreation issue.

Our City should not be a dumping ground, for anyone!

Anonymous said...

I believe the Somerset county intends to move the quarry's operation to serve NJT to the yard in Plainfield since for a time they will cutoff NJT's ballast train access to the quarry. NJT ballast trains access the quarry almost everyday. I've seen them go by Netherwood Station 12 to 13 cars long from what I'm told it takes 5 trucks to fill one car do the math.

Anonymous said...

Dan - Sorry - you did not say it was city owned but they (the city) would not have a say in this, per se. The property owner plus the Zoning Board are the approvals one would need and I don't think either would approve for environmental issues (owner) and permitted ancillary land uses (BOA).

Anonymous said...

I asked someone wiser than me and they said:

"Can they dump it (the debris) in Plainfield?

1. they would need permission of the owner which I doubt they would get from the railroads especially with any associated environmental issues from the debris. The only way I would see that happen is if the owner/RR required the "owner of the debris" to take on the responsibility for all site environmental issues including those imparted by previous RR operations,

2. it would be an ancillary use of the site and I am not sure that the zoning ordinance would allow it; I rather doubt it unless it was short term and associated with adjacent development/construction which it would not be. "

This would have to go before our zoning board to allow this use on a light industrial zoned property. I think enough people would be up in arms about this, show up at the hearing -- it would get voted down.

I understand wanting to make money. But, if the city is going to make homeowners and small businesses going through the zoning process jump through hoops for small, harmless projects (like repairing steps or doing an addition) -- they can't expect an automatic "okay" on something like this that could be introducing potentially hazardous materials to the city environment.

Dan said...

@ 6:11 AM -- Be sure to check Thursday's post; the issue is not DEBRIS, it is the TRACK BALLAST which the quarry supplies for the rails....