Meadowlands bridge needs emergency repairs

Additional construction to include flood wall, Greenway

Meadowlands Parkway Bridge isn’t falling down… but it is in need of extensive repairs.
At the Secaucus Town Council meeting on July 28, Mayor Michael Gonnelli announced that the last state inspection resulted in the bridge receiving a priority one and two status, “which means it needs a lot of work, to the tune of about $1 million in immediate repairs, and in long-term repairs a lot more than that,” he said.
Built in 1975, the four-lane bridge sees traffic of 15,000 vehicles per day. It received emergency work in 2005 and is now in need of a complete overhaul. Priority one status required the town to address the issue within 30 days.
“We are one of only two municipalities I believe in the entire state of New Jersey that own a bridge that big,” said Gonnelli.
At the meeting, the council approved submission of a grant application and execution of a grant contract with the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) for emergency repairs.
“The bridge has a lot of redundancy so there’s a lot of extra supports in the bridge. But I’d be lying to you if I said it didn’t need a lot of work,” said Gonnelli. “Our goal is to get this initial money, get the bridge fixed. Once the bridge is fixed, the county executive has offered to take that bridge away from us because the county is able to get the funding to replace the bridge whereas the municipality can’t.”

“The bridge has a lot of redundancy so there’s a lot of extra supports in the bridge. But I’d be lying to you if I said it didn’t need a lot of work.” –Mayor Michael Gonnelli
A different type of construction will be taking place along the foot of Huber Street and the adjacent neighborhoods. That region flooded during Hurricane Sandy and construction was approved to build a wall paralleling the Hackensack River. “We’re constructing the first 400 feet of what is to be a couple of thousand feet of flood prevention wall. The cost for that is $191,000,” said Gonnelli. “That will be the first piece of a couple-of-thousand-foot-long puzzle that will be constructed to stop the flooding in that whole area of the 2nd Ward.”
Work should begin in late August or early September.

Public walkway on river

Further north, the town is entering into an agreement with a local business to complete work on the final portion of the Secaucus Greenway, a 1.5-mile public walkway along the Hackensack River. “We finally got the okay from Schmitt’s Builders, the concrete plant on the end of Paterson Plank Road, to give us a 25-foot easement the entire length of Schmidt’s Builders along the river,” said Gonnelli.
The Greenway was initiated a decade ago to build a continuous scenic walkway along the northwestern edge of town, bordering the waterfront. It has been constructed piecemeal over the years as the town negotiated with property owners, and runs through three parks. Work is expected to begin in the fall on the final portion of the walkway.
Meanwhile, the Mill Creek Marsh Trail has reopened. “That was another trail that was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy,” said Gonnelli. “That trail has been entirely rebuilt and if you haven’t gone out there I recommend you take a walk out there. It’s absolutely beautiful. It’s about a mile and a half loop and they did a fantastic job.”
The entrance to the trail is located next to Bob’s Discount Furniture in the Mill Creek Mall.

Parking, safety, and more

Among the ordinances opened for public hearing at the meeting were two designed to relieve parking issues in the downtown area. Currently business owners can apply for parking permits good for up to two years. The new ordinances call for six-month permits at a cost of $25 each, with designated parking areas for business owners. In addition they create a two-hour nonresidential parking area with the hope of freeing up parking spaces in the center of town.
The town is soliciting proposals for installation of video surveillance cameras in Buchmuller Park. “Our goal is to increase safety throughout the park,” said Town Administrator David Drumeler. The number and placement of cameras will be determined based upon need. Money has been allocated and the hope is to complete the project by the fall.
Bids have also been submitted by the county for a dog park in Laurel Hill Park, with the goal of making that available in the fall.
At the conclusion of the meeting town resident Tom Roarty spoke heatedly about two concerns that he had previously discussed with the mayor and town administrators. The first was his confusion over the terms of an ordinance passed by the Town Council last year. It was explained to him that the ordinance basically amended a 1971 ordinance pertaining to property on Front Street near Meadowlands Parkway. The older ordinance inadvertently omitted about 200 square feet of the property. The newer ordinance amended the older one, adding the omitted footage and bringing the total to approximately 6,550 square feet.
Roarty’s second concern was regarding future residential development of former industrial land along Meadowlands Parkway. Gonnelli explained that the land had been extensively reviewed by regulatory agencies including the Meadowlands Commission and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Documents provided by the town indicate that any and all necessary remediation work was completed and the DEP inspected and gave the site a green light in 2008, with subsequent inspections and approvals in 2010 and 2012.

Sign up now for upcoming events

Residents were advised of two upcoming events requiring prior registration. On Aug. 19, the Hudson County Office on Aging is holding its annual Hudson County Annual Boat Ride for Seniors. Secaucus senior citizens ages 62 and older are invited to attend for free. For information call (201) 865-4422.
And on Oct. 21 the town is sponsoring a bus ride to the Paper Mill Playhouse for a performance of “The Bandstand.” The price is $35 and tickets are available on a first come, first served basis. For tickets call (201) 617-5917 and ask for Lisa.

Art Schwartz may be reached at

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