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Reconstruction of "S" Curves on Track for 2016 Completion

Joe Grogan

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 • 10:25am

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – The reconstruction of the portion of South Orange Avenue known as the "S" curves to improve safety is on track to be completed in March 2016, according to Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, who spoke at the May 12 Board of Trustees meeting.

The project will cost $26 million and aims to improve safety by adding a shoulder to the eastbound side, improving storm drainage and improving lines of sight around the some of the sharper bends. The renovation is focused on the section of the road that brings drivers by South Mountain Reservation.

Safety issues were first identified more than 10 years ago, and the improvements represent very positive changes for the residents who use the road every day, according to DiVincenzo.

In order to accommodate the desire of the Historic Preservation Commission to retain the road’s aesthetics, the project also includes the construction of arch bridges, the planting of 4,000 trees and the addition of 175 light fixtures.

Minimizing the impact on the surrounding land is of paramount importance to the organizers of the reconstruction, according to DiVincenzo.

In addition, in order to reduce the inconvenience to commuters, at least one lane will be open throughout the vast majority of the project.

“We’ve worked with every office in the state and county, and federal rules to comply with the time schedule are very strict,” DiVincenzo said.  “We’ve worked very closely with the county for a long period of time to bring this project to successful completion on time.”

Board members also took time to clarify that a proposed ordinance implementing a fee to process process requests under the Open Public Records Act only applies to requests that involve an “extraordinary expense.”

“This does not signal that we will necessarily charge anyone or that our current policy will change,” said Barry Lewis Jr., village administrator. “But in the event of an extraordinary personnel time or other effort, it will be appropriate that the individual requesting it will be required to fund that cost.”

The fees are allowqed under state law, which mandates that the fee be equal to the salary of the lowest person qualified to produce the documents.

In other action, the Board of Trustees:

  • Found that the asbestos abatement as part of the renovation of village hall is taking longer than expected and will require additional funds to be completed.
     
  • Established for the second calendar year a charge for village residents using the sewer system.
     
  • Found that the village owes $390,000 in unpaid pension benefits for the police and fire departments.
     
  • Outlined the improvements planned in an upcoming overhaul of the village’s emergency call system

They also made the following decisions regarding village employees:

  • Raymond Cabrera was appointed as a full-time information technology specialist in the Department of Administration.
     
  • Kai Greene and Henry Hamel were hired as soccer referees for the Department of Recreation & Cultural Affairs.
     
  • Part-time clerk typist for the Building Department Scott Egelberg’s hourly pay rate was changed to $14, effective May 19.
     
  • A resolution was passed hiring a per diem clerk typist in the Tax Collector’s Office on a needs basis.
     
  • A resolution was passed affirming the village administrator’s hiring of per diem staff in the Department of Code Enforcement and Inspections.

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