ROXBURY, NJ – Parents of many children in Roxbury schools were left scurrying to get their children home today when the district announced, at nearly 2 p.m., that many buses would not be running.

In a “Honeywell” announcement distributed at 1:46 p.m., Roxbury Transportation Department Director Janine Byrnes alerted parents about the problem, which related to a paving project on Landing Road.

The announcement erroneously blamed the township for the road closure and for failing to communicate. However, the paving project is being done by Morris County, since the road is a county road, and it was announced (by the township) on Wednesday.

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In the alert, the township noted that Landing Road was being paved Thursday and Friday and that northbound traffic was going to be detoured to Shippenport Road with a detour in place between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. 

In her Honeywell alert, Byrnes said the district didn’t know about the road closure until Friday afternoon. However, in addition to the township's warning, there were signs posted on Landing Road – well before the paving began – advising about the impending closure.

“Roxbury Township has closed roads through at least 5:00 PM today, due to a town paving project,” wrote Byrnes in the alert. “Roxbury School district was notified of the extreme closure and gridlock traffic patterns at 1:00 today.”

Byrnes said the project forced the cancellation of all buses from Nixon School and 21 buses from other Roxbury schools “due to these extreme conditions” and told parents they needed to come get their children.

Communication Breakdown

“We understand the unnecessary inconvenience this will cause, but for the safety of our students, we must make this decision,” Byrnes wrote. “The township did not communicate the severity of the traffic and paving concerns during dismissal time. Please note all parents will need to sign students out. Again, we apologize and will ensure students are safe.”

A call to Morris County government spokesman Larry Ragonese was not immediately returned.

Roxbury Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Richard Blood stressed the project was not his department’s. Nevertheless, he pointed out that he took the initiative to send out a phone alert on Wednesday evening.

Roxbury School Board President Leo Coakley could not be reached for comment. School district spokeswoman Ann Rhodes did not immediately return a call.

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