Escape routeAfter years of complaints to the state, the North End gets new path to Route 3

Residents of Secaucus’ North End have long been concerned that, in the event of an emergency, they would have no way to evacuate should Route 3 be shut down.
A tractor trailer along Route 3 last year offered a frightening preview of what could happen. In the accident the truck tore down several power lines at Maple Street and Paterson Plank Road. Route 3 had to be shut down for four hours. During that period, residents were blocked from getting in an out of the North End.
“This actually wasn’t a new problem. We’ve known for years that something like that could happen,” said Mayor Dennis Elwell.
Even emergency vehicles would have had difficulty navigating the area.
“There’s a route they can take through the Baker development. But it’s a very narrow street, and it would be very difficult to evacuate people or get emergency vehicles in and out of the area. It would also be time consuming,” Elwell added.
According to the mayor, the town has lobbied for years asking the state Department of Transportation (DOT) to create an alternative escape route that can be used in the event of an emergency.
Two weeks ago, the town finally got that route.
At the state’s expense, DOT created an emergency ramp that feeds traffic onto Route 3. The ramp is only to be used for emergencies and will be gated off and locked to prevent drivers from using it as an alternative path to Route 3.
The gate, Elwell said, will only be opened in cases of emergencies. The Secaucus Police and Volunteer Fire Departments will have keys to unlock the gate.
“After the tractor trailer accident, I began talking to Assemblyman [Vincent] Prieto (32nd Dist.), and said we needed to go after the DOT on this again,” Elwell commented last week. “He did some work on our behalf in Trenton, and they came back and agreed with us that the area is a potential hazard and something needed to be done. DOT drew up this plan.”
He noted that large vehicles will also have easier access to the area, and the design of the construction allows for vehicles to move in both directions, in case residents need to be evacuated at the same time emergency vehicles are moving in.
“This is very positive for the community,” he said. “And it should put a lot of residents, especially those who live in the 2nd Ward, at ease because they always had that fear, if something were to happen, how would we get out, how would we get in? At least we now have an alternative.”
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