LITTLE FALLS/WOODLAND PARK, NJ - Officials from the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) held a public information meeting on Aug. 29 at the Little Falls Civic Center to address concerns from local residents on the forthcoming closure of Notch Bridge.
Beginning on Friday, Sept 8, the bridge will close for a three to fourth month period, according to officials. The closure is part of a multi-phase interchange project to improve highway flow for Route 3, Route 46, Valley Road and Notch/Rifle Camp Road.
A commercial traffic detour was originally designated for Lower Notch Road, however, during the meeting several dozen residents in attendance urged officials to allow the redirection of commercial traffic to pass on Browertown Road instead of Lower Notch Road.
Many of those who complained about the intended detour were residents from Lower Notch Road, who cited safety concerns for students who are picked up and dropped off on the roadway. They also felt the residential street is not intended for commercial traffic.
Albert W. Roughgarden, a design engineer for Stantec who spoke at the meeting, said that many commercial vehicles, including 18-wheel trucks, use Lower Notch Road on a daily basis.
"We're not sending trucks to where they can't go and never were before," he said.
Louisa Wuebeens, a Little Falls resident who resides on Lower Notch Road, said that the safety of children should be taken into account.
"Most of those children have to cross the street to get to their houses," she said, adding that additional trucks on the roadway would make for a hazardous situation.
Councilwoman Maria Martini Cordonnier was also present during the meeting and tried to reassure residents that the DOT would consider every issue and that safety was at their foremost concern. She also cited concerns about redirecting traffic on to Browertown Road, where much of the roadway has no sidewalks.
Some residents expressed concern about the potential problems with traffic that might arise with redirecting traffic to Browertown Road, where the back entrance to the Passaic Valley Regional High School is located. There is potential for back up during student drop-off and pick-up times, as well as many after school athletics and activities that include busing.
After the meeting, Mike Everett, project engineer for the NJDOT, confirmed that a decision was made to redirect commercial traffic on to Browertown Road during the closure of Notch Road Bridge, pending county approval.
According to Steve Schapiro, NJDOT spokesman, the decision for the change was based on Browertown Road's wider lanes in order to accommodate larger trucks.
"We compared maps of both Lower Notch Road and Browertown Road and Browertown Road's lanes are larger, which should help traffic flow better," Schapiro said.