South Brunswick: Township Council Wants More Say On Road Closings

Friendship Road finally opened in both directions Wednesday following construction during the summer. Credits: Police photo

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ – As two summer road construction projects on Friendship Road and Promenade Boulevard ended, and those roadways opened again Wednesday, the Township Council wants to have more say in the future closings.

Councilman Charles Carley asked the governing body during Tuesday night’s meeting to take a look at its present ordinance regarding road closings a couple of weeks ago.

“The intent of this is just to get a handle on road closures that go on for an extended period of time, really for periods of time greater than 48 hours,” Carley said.

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Part of the reason for looking at the present ordinance is due to a few projects where roads have been closed much longer than the contractors initially estimated.

Two such projects on Friendship Road and on Stouts Lane at Promenade Boulevard just wrapped up and reopened on Wednesday, according to police.

Police said that Friendship Road, which had been closed and detoured at the Route 130 entrance, was now open in both directions.

The Stouts Lane project has moved farther east, easing the backups being experienced on Promenade Boulevard, police said.

Carley said he would like to see the council more in the loop concerning how long certain roads were to be closed, and would like the ordinance to be changed, adding a bonding requirement and other penalties if the roads are closed longer.

He also said the state statutes require the township to present a packet to the Department of Transportation explaining any closings and how they are eventually to be resolved, including a resolution by the council authorizing the closing.

“We haven’t been doing that,” Carley said.

Mayor Frank Gambatese said that he had no problems with adjusting the ordinance so that the council was more informed on planned closings, but didn’t think he, or members of council, were experienced enough in engineering to decide if the roads needed to be closed or not.

“I don’t feel I am qualified to vote on the closing of a road when I’m not an engineer,” Gambatese said. “But I do like, where somewhere down the line they have to come to us. That makes sense to me.”

Councilman Joe Camarota said that things have been getting better and that more meetings between contractors and the town’s professionals on projects have been more frequent, but he would also like to see “an action plan.”

“If (a road) is going to be closed for more than a day, or whatever (time period) we decide, an action report has to be submitted to council for approval.”

Deputy Mayor Chris Killmurray and Councilman Jo Hochman both said the closings end up impacting the quality of life for the residents and need to be considered carefully.

Township Attorney Don Sears said he would draft the appropriate changes to the ordinance, based on the comments of the council, and bring it back to them for consideration next month.

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