Residents near Parsippany's Route 202 are expressing anger over the New Jersey Department of Transportation's $73 million major Interstate 80 roadway rehabilitation project.
Specifically, the citizens are upset that DOT officials hired Union Paving Construction Co. of Mountainside to clear trees from an area at the juncture of Littleton and Marcella roads for the purpose of creating a staging site for the rehab effort.
"The area is a heavy traveled corridor now," said an outraged Mary Purzycki, who lives nearby. "It will be impossible for area residents or any driver to travel this corridor safely once the staging area is operational."
Purzycki said her initial concern was about sound levels, as the trees cleared served as a buffer to absorb sound from Interstates 80 and 287. But she said there was another, more important consideration.
"No thought was given to the safety of Parsippany residents when this site was picked," she charged. " is two blocks away. Our local streets are walked by children and most residents of all ages."
Purzycki is calling on residents to contact Mayor James Barberio and Asw. BettyLou DeCroce and "tell them to close this site and choose a site away from the residential area."
DOT spokesperson Timothy Greeley said the staging site is a necessary component of the project, which will rehabilitate four miles of I-80 and
make improvements to its interchanges with I-287 and Route 202.
"Prior to the start of any roadway construction project it is necessary
for a contractor to procure a suitable location to set up the
construction field office and staging area to mobilize its resources," he said."This area is located within state-owned right-of-way and within the construction limits of the upcoming project."
Greeley said the contractor obtained a DOT highway occupancy permit to use
the right-of-way. Additionally, he noted that a public meeting was held in October 2011 to allow residents to share their concerns.
The DOT spokesperson explained that trees and other vegetation had to be removed by the contractor to prepare the ground for staging, adding that no additional greenery will be removed.
In answer to the residents' complaint regarding the tree clearing, he said that the occupancy permit mandates that the contractor restore the area to the original condition before finishing the job.
"This includes planting trees to replace those that were removed," Greeley said.
He added that residens' concerns about noise were considered as well.
"Green mesh fencing will be installed around the area to provide protection against noise, dust and other impacts," he said. "The contractor has installed heavy-duty silt fencing around the perimeter of the staging area for erosion control."
Resident safety is a matter that the DOT is still addressing, according to Greeley.
"During the course of our coordination with the , they have expressed similar safety concerns," he said. "We are looking into any temporary measures, including increased or new signage to be installed, to provide adequate safety for all motorists in that area."
Greeley also said that despite the difficulties involved, the project will be good for the state and area motorists. And he said another public meeting to allow residents to speak in regard to the project will be held in September.
"The project will benefit tens of thousands of New Jersey residents every day and exemplifies NJDOT’s commitment to safety and state-of-good-repair
investments," he said.