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Hillside Avenue Construction Delayed

By on Aug 23 2013.
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Hillside Avenue Closed

Hillside Avenue Closed

The replacement of a culvert on Hillside Avenue in Springfield originally scheduled for completion by September 8 has been delayed three weeks.  The announcement of the replacement was made by Union County in June 10, 2013 as part of a $1.33 million project that also included culverts in Berkeley Heights and Roselle.

The estimated timeline for the project that was given in the summer was 2 months.  It started in the beginning of July.  Residents were understandably worried when the county told the public “emergency vehicles will not be allowed through the work zone and should plan accordingly” and that the road will remain closed 24/7.  Patience has been wearing thin in the community as significant traffic has built up along South Springfield Avenue and the impact of the detours and congestion is being felt on residential neighborhoods in the area.  At the Township Committee workshop meeting on Monday, Committeeman Ziad Shehady highlighted the troubles residents were experiencing and asked township officials to explore ways to help alleviate the burden.  He also made it a point to call out the lack of helpfulness from County officials, including Springfield’s own Union County Freeholder and veteran Democratic politician Bruce Bergen who was in the audience.  Shehady said residents have been complimenting the construction workers but that the County has not planned this efficiently and even started paving without giving prior notice to residents who would have been trapped in their driveways.  He asked for possible adjustments to the timing of the traffic light at Hillside Avenue in order to move vehicles along and for added signage to prevent motorists from driving through quiet streets.

According to the Township, that discussion was followed by a meeting on Wednesday, August 22nd that included representatives from the Springfield Police Department, Engineering Department, Board of Education and the County Engineer and Consulting Engineer.  As a result of that meeting, it was explained that “due to a water main conflicting with the new culvert, the water main had to be relocated by the water company” and that would delay the project approximately 3 weeks.  However, the adjusted timetable on the Township website shows a delay of more than 5 weeks with a completion date of October 18.  A statement that adds more confusion to the schedule follows, perhaps to portray the County or the Township in a more favorable light.  “The County has agreed to an expedite construction schedule that will shave 10 days off the October 18 date to October 8.”  More accurately, an October 8 target date reflects a 4 week delay bringing the total duration of the project to 3 months.

A major concern is the traffic and transportation plans once Springfield schools open.  The Township website indicates, “The BOE will only have to divert one school bus onto Route 22, which is acceptable to them.  The BOE will contact parents.  The Township will contact residents and update them on the new construction timetable.”

The Hillside Avenue culvert, similar to a bridge only smaller and allowing water to flow under the road, was built in 1926.  According to officials, the culvert is 12 feet long and about 5 feet high from the streambed.  The river underneath is home to wildlife so the project included plans to recreate a natural streambed inside the culvert.  The plans include removing and replacing approximately 40 feet of the roadway.  The contractor for the work is Colonnelli Brothers of Hackensack, New Jersey.

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