Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Thursday, September 8, 2011

South Avenue road construction project in trouble?

Proposed project would reconstruct South Avenue from Woodland Avenue to Terrill Road.
After years of years of discussion and planning, after numerous meetings with businesses and residents, after countless pleas that the traffic-calming 'bumpouts' be kept or banished, Plainfield's South Avenue road reconstruction project seemed to founder at Tuesday's Council meeting -- and for an unexpected reason.

A resolution to award a contract for the project (in the amount of $1.263M) to Asphalt Paving Systems of Hammonton seemed to be moving along until the vexatious matter came up of why, since South Avenue is part of a state highway (Route 28) running through Plainfield, the State DOT is not paying for the project, instead of it being paid out of local funds.

Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson stated, yet once again, that the City is 'researching the matter'. Councilor Mapp pressed Williamson, suggesting that the City might need to take the issue to the courts to get the State to take over (or, more correctly, re-take) responsibility for the route, which wends its way through the City.

It seems that at some point in the past, the City of Plainfield told the state it was willing to take over the responsibility of maintaining the road. Williamson has not been able to be more specific than that, despite all the researching.

(At the public comment, Dr. Harold Yood -- Olddoc to many -- noted that he recalled during the 1950s the City proposed to make West 4th and West 5th Streets one way (in the opposite directions from those of today). The State, according to Yood, advised the city that the DOT had no provision for state highways to be one way, whereupon the City is said to have made the agreement to take on the responsibility for maintenance. 'In perpetuity', it turns out, is a long time -- perhaps longer than short-term elected officials ought to be able to commit to.)

As the exchange began to get intense, Council President McWilliams expressed a little exasperation, reminding everyone that the project had previously been moved along by a 6-1 vote.

At which point Councilor Williams said she did not remember voting for it. Councilor Rivers loudly asserted she would not support it and that if there was money available, it should be used 'to pave the Fourth Ward'. I could not hear what Councilor Greaves said at all. Councilor Reid was absent.

Councilor Mapp said that he has all along felt that it should be a state-financed project.

This left Councilors Storch and McWilliams defending going ahead. Councilor Mapp, in canvassing the table for consent to place the item on next week's business agenda, said he would support doing so, adding, 'But you better have four votes next week', meaning that he will not be voting FOR the project next Monday, and the other Councilors would have to guarantee among themselves the votes needed (4) to pass the resolution.

If the reconstruction project does not win approval next Monday, it is likely that any resolution of the issue would leave it too late to finish the project from a cold-weather perspective.

If the project fails to go forward, the monies spent on engineering preparations will likely have been wasted.

And if the city sues the state to force the issue of the state taking over the roadway, even more Plainfield taxpayer money will be poured into the evidently bottomless South Avenue situation.

Ah, progress!

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Anonymous said...

Regardless of the circumstances of how and when Rt 28 became a local road in Plainfield does Councilor Mapp seriously think the county will accept responsibility for it now? Why? Because he's so well liked in Elizabeth?

South Avenue between Terrill and Woodland is the one strip in the whole freakin city where everyone goes to spend money. It has 4 eat in restaurants, 5 take out, 7 fast food joints; a charter school; 2 dry cleaners, 2 laundries, a car wash, a nail parlor; a supermarket, a green grocer, a Walgreens (with a Redbox!); a Seven-11 and a 24-hour gas station; 2 liquor stores, 3 day care centers, 3 car repair shops, a bake shop; an active commuter train station, and soon, a bomb-detection lab.

It deserves a well paved and well marked street. It's an investment in infrastructure that will pay off in increased tax revenues, higher property values and stronger businesses. Come on guys, get this done!

Anonymous said...

That is the problem with Plainfield leaders, no vision, no big picture, no sense that there is a greater good to be had.

Councilwoman Rivers, who loudly stated "1 million dollars, pave the 4th Ward" - How much do you think it takes to pave a street, and won't the 4th ward be paved through the regular city schedule?

Councilman Mapp, I understand that you are very principled, but can you not look beyond the fact that the city should not pay for this, and look at the benenfit it will bring to Plainfield?

Please, stop looking at the small stuff, and start being visionary. Plainfield has been under the small thinkers which is why we are in this mess. Raise your sights and raise your expectations for Plainfield as a whole.

Anonymous said...

Hurray for Adrian Mapp. I am all for the State paying for the project. Even at the loss of engineering costs (although the state should reimburse the city for that expense if it assumes responsibility for the project; that work product belongs to the city afterall), Plainfield would come out over $1 million ahead.

Thanks to olddoc for his memory. If there is no contract, what is there to enforce? And it does seem the state has changed its policy towards operating "one way" highways. Just travel down Route 22 in Springfield or Bridgewater where the traffic lanes are separated by private property.

BTW where is Jerry Green on this now that there is a city/state issue actually within his purview?

Bob said...

I hope our City Council will move forward with this project and realize it is for the good of the City. Why wasn't all this wrangling done a year ago? I don't know what some of them were smoking, but put me on the list. Let's move forward and then sue the state to give them back this nightmare of a road.

Anonymous said...

the city is run by idiots. the city took over the road and the state is not going to take it over under christie.

once they put it to bid the contractor is going to get paid either by doing the job or suing the city and getting paid for not doing the job.

Anonymous said...

Those bump outs are a disaster.They should have never been installed. Who's the genious that pushed for those to be installed?

Rebecca Williams said...

Dan--a clarification: I wasn't saying I didn't remember voting for the South Ave. project--it hasn't come up for a vote. What I was hazy about was a conversation I had had with Councilor Storch wherein I said I would consider supporting it, as I was not in favor of the city taking on this responsibility, given the number of other roads that also are in dire need of repair. Being realistic, however, about the timeline for the state or county to actually take on responsibility, and knowing the vagaries of lawsuit delays, I think I would be long dead before the project ever got off the ground if we had to wait any longer. I support it, and I will be voting YES on Monday.


Anonymous said...

Rebecca can back up now but at the meeting she did not vote to move the project forward.

One should have to submit a resume to be on the council and head of a 70 million dollar corp.