Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?
- Five Man Electrical Band
SUMMIT, NJ - For Summit residents, the answer to the above song's question currently is no, at least when it comes to banners -- imploring State elected officials to 'Let's get moving" -- that were placed at both entrances to the currently dry-docked Morris Avenue Bridge construction site. As of several days ago, those signs were taken down.
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While the fact that New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit), which has authority over the project and controls the construction site, took the banners down is without dispute, the reasoning for their removal is not entirely in sync, according to statements from NJ Transit and the City of Summit.
According to an NJ Transit spokesperson, removal of the banners "was necessary due to safety concerns." A City of Summit spokesperson says that "an NJ Transit executive communicated that it was a property issue to our Police Department."
Whatever the reason, the banners are now off the site, with the City hoping to put them back up on City-controlled property.
"We were notified by New Jersey Transit that our finish the bridge banner was on its property. They removed and returned it to the city. We will rehang it on city property soon," said Summit Mayor Nora Radest.
The banners, which the City neither sought nor received approval to hang, were debuted with a bit of fanfare via a press conference held September 15 at the construction site. That day, Radest, Summit Common Council President Mike McTernan, Fire Chief Eric Evers, and Police Lieutenant David Richel all spoke of the challenges and hardships that the bridge closure and delay present for the City and its residents, businesses, and public safety personnel.
A key component of an integrated "Finish The Bridge" campaign, the banners also included the address to a web page -- finishthebridge.org -- where residents can find information on how they can engage their elected State officials.
At the September 15 press event, Radest said, "We need to raise our voices together. We need to remind them today and every day to resolve the Transportation Trust Fund issue, and properly serve the people of New Jersey. Every time you drive by these banners, every time you need to take a detour, every time it takes you longer to get from one school to another, every time you’re late for work or an appointment, go to finishthebridge.org and tell the Governor and our legislators to get to work. Let’s raise our voices together and get moving."
The replacement work began when the bridge closed August 14, 2015, but was halted on July 8 of this year when -- on June 30 -- Christie issued Executive Order No. 210, ordering the shutdown and causing work on the 18-months-long project and as well as construction on Ashwood and DeForest Avenues to be halted.
The State Department of Transportation (DOT) and NJ Transit (NJT), on July 6, compiled and identified a list of projects funded through the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) that are subject to an orderly shutdown in the wake of the state Senate failure to act on the Assembly Transportation Trust Fund package that would have provided every New Jersey family two broad-based tax cuts that exceeded a dedicated gas tax increase proposed in the legislation.