Working On The Highway

It’s not the biggest bridge traffic story of the month.

But it’s ours.

In the spring of 2015, the Connecticut Department of Transportation will begin a $2.6 million project to rehabilitate the Merritt Parkway’s North Avenue bridge.

It’s a big project. The bridge is 75 years old, and as with human beings, things happen at that age.

Notice is given: North Avenue will be closed 18 months from now, to repair this bridge.

The Merritt Parkway North Avenue bridge.

But the state DOT understands the importance of North Avenue. It’s a major artery in town — and 4 schools (Coleytown Middle and El; Bedford Middle; Staples High) are strung along it.

So, while rehabilitation work will take several months, the plan is to close the road entirely only from mid-June to mid-August, when school is not in session.

A public information meeting is set for this Wednesday (January 15, 7 p.m., Town Hall auditorium) to explain the work, and answer questions. Plans will be available for review.

So let’s see. In Connecticut, officials send out notices about a bridge closing 18 months in advance, and hold a public meeting.

In New Jersey, the governor — sorry, random top-ranking people in his administration he barely knows — close most lanes of the busiest motor vehicle bridge in the world, yet the only communication is gleeful texts and emails among themselves.

Kind of drives home the difference between the 2 states, right?

A different bridge, an hour away.

A different bridge, an hour away.


17 responses to “Working On The Highway

  1. Dan Woog, you are too wonderful!

  2. Right on, Dan!!

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. NJ political appointees acting badly and mindlessly vs CT DOT bureaucrats acting correctly and thoughtfully!!

    Very sad when politically appointed officials think they literally and emotionally abuse anyone by creating several days of gridlock in Ft Lee and on the GW bridge!!

    Shame on them!!

  4. Sounds like Chicago-style politics being used in NJ.

  5. Hi Michael Petrino- as far as I know- Corruption on the right or left is corruption. And thank you for pointing out that you can compare apples and oranges in this case!!

    The only point of my comment is that in NJ political appointees misused their positions to “get even” and hurt many bystanders vs The CT DOT bureaucrats trying to avoid hurting the school kids of Westport by properly timing the closing of the North Avenue bridge during summer recess.

    If you pointed out that Westport had to bribe CT DOT to get this done properly I could see a connection and would be outraged! I would hope that the state DOT would do the same for any town- whether Republican led or Democrat led!!

    • Are CT appointees and bureaucrats acting “thoughtfully and correctly” when they take bribes? If you are evaluating behavior, you should be comprehensive.

      ” NJ political appointees acting badly and mindlessly vs CT DOT bureaucrats acting correctly and thoughtfully!! “

  6. Hi Michael Petrino- again

    You point out in your references showing a contractor making donations to the Democrats after awarded state contracts. If bribery before the fact or a quid pro quo to getting the contracts can be proven to exist at any level then obviously corruption exists!

    By being comprehensive you must mean that in any conversation you can always point something out that has nothing to do with the discussion at hand to simply appear to be scoring points by being more comprehensive.

    So to change the discussion- I think it is great that the CT DOT takes into consideration the school calendar when making these decisions so as not to inconvenience the children of Westport-

    The folks in NJ can do whatever they like except when I have to cross the GW on my way to points south!!

    Thank you Dan for pointing this out to all of us!!

    Now Mr Petrino- you can be as comprehensive as you can be and talk about bribery in most third world countries as well as NJ and CT.

  7. Sven Davidson

    I’m not sure that the issue is CDOT vs. NJDOT. Rather, it’s the egregious actions of Jersey politicians that are in play. And I’m also not sure that Connecticut is squeeky clean in the actions of its politicians.

  8. Adam Schwartz '75

    The saddest part of what happened in NJ is the retaliation was supposed to be directed at the Mayor of Ft. Lee when in fact Ft. Lee was barely impacted. It was everyone commuting on the NJ Turnpike from everywhere other than Ft. Lee heading over the GWB. Most people impacted probably don’t even know where Ft. Lee is….

    • Elisabeth Keane

      Mr. Schwartz, why do you think Fort Lee was barely impacted? I think that probably everyone who crosses the GWB suspects there is a town nearby even if the do not know the town’s name. The houses and apartment buildings would be a clue. The bridge approach bisects Fort Lee. Many small businesses suffered because customers couldn’t reach them. A four year old child was missing and the search for that child was impeded although thankfully all turned out well. Emergency vehicles could not get through town. This was not a small or insignificant matter at all. Fort Lee was impacted in an enormous way and there would have been a ripple effect on local roads. I am from Bergen County (the county in which Fort Lee is located) and I can tell you that lesser events than the retaliatory event currently in the news cause traffic jams that affect not only the interstates (I95 and I80 are concurrent on the NJ side of the bridge and down the hill on the west side of the Palisades crossing the meadows; then I80 swings off to the west and I95 heads south in the form of NJ Turnpike) but all the local roads — Fort Lee Road, Lemoine Avenue (aka 9W), Bergen Boulevard, Teaneck Road and Routes 46 and 4, to name a few, can become clogged and impassable. Then there are all the side streets that become filled as out of towners hunt for possible escape. Knowing the back roads helps, believe me, but that goes just so far if at some point one must cross one of the more prominent roads that is a morass of non-moving traffic. What happened during the current newsworthy event was egregious and could have caused great danger to local residents.

      If you get stuck on the Fort Lee side heading toward the eastbound GWB there is the Plaza Diner on the southwest corner of Lemoine Avenue and the bridge approach side street. It has been there a long time and is a local institution. Coffee, breakfast food, large menu. Kids used to go there after the prom. Family place. They will feed you even if your family is not with you. It can be prudent to visit the diner for awhile until traffic clears up but that is best useful under normal traffic circumstances/delays.

      Here is a link to USA Today describing some of what went on in Fort Lee during that time. This event was not inconsequential:
      Fort Lee traffic jam caused human debacle

      By the way, the photo that appears at the top of this article is a view ON the GWB. Getting onto the bridge can be half the battle and certainly usually is a good start as long as traffic keeps moving (but don’t get me started on the vagaries of traffic when something, however minute, has happened anywhere on the Cross Bronx Expressway aka I95.) The Fort Lee GWB eastbound bridge approach begins as Routes 4 and 80/95 climb the Palisades and merge at the top into the approach lanes for the bridge. Route 46 also merges at that point.

      Happy Motoring.

      • Adam Schwartz '75

        My point was, and still is, all those cars/trucks trying to get onto the GWB that day were for the most part not from Ft. Lee. They’re from all over NJ trying to get into NY and CT. Also, most people from Ft. Lee were not impacted because they don’t use the NJT to get around town. They were trying to punish the Mayor by hitting his city and all they did for the most part was infuriate a bunch of people outside Ft. Lee trying to cross the GWB. Now, if you want to argue what percentage of those people were from Ft. Lee, have at it. That wasn’t my point. But go for it.

        And one more thing regarding a point you tried to make. Anyone who knows that area fully understands they don’t have many choices for getting around the GWB. You either head north 40 miles to the Tappan Zee or south 25 miles to the Holland Tunnel. Both almost impossible choices anytime of the day. With that said, why would anyone get off in Ft. Lee? Yes, some did but not many.

        Happy Writing!

  9. Wheeler H. Peckham

    The latest wrinkle in the story is to follow the money. Evidently, a billion dollar Ft. Lee development whose key selling point is direct access to the GWB did not secure financing until the day after the traffic lanes were reopened. It would appear that this was classic mob-type insurance extortion, and the lane closures were a demonstration of strength by the Christie administration.

    It’s the equivalent of throwing a garbage can through a storefront window to demonstrate why a shop owner needs to pay protection money to the local hoods.

    If we’re lucky, we’ll see a money trail from the developer into a Christie related pocket happening right around the time the lanes were re-opened.

  10. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Quite a segway from the basics of one town’s maintenance to a political scheme far away.
    By the way, those trees on the Parkway need trimming.

  11. Probably the dumbest move on any politician’s part since the blue dress. In both cases.. a show of (perceived) power.