Byram officials discuss Rt. 206 project

Meet with NJDOT reps last week

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  • Town Manager Joe Sabatini, left, and Byram Township Mayor Jim Oscovitch voice their concerns to NJDOT officials during a two-hour walk of Rt. 206 July 18 in Byram.

  • Members of the council and public show NJDOT officials the overflowing of Lubber's Run Bridge.

  • The dam at the Lubber's Run Bridge shows the water caught in a U-turn, and flooding the stream, which is meant as a walkway for hikers or fishermen. photos by alley shubert

By Alley Shubert

— The Byram Township Council held a special meeting on Friday, July 18, with a two-hour walking tour along Rt. 206 to discuss current construction matters with the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

In September of 2009, Tilcon began construction on Rt. 206 and now, several members of the council expressed to NJDOT how unsatisfied they are with the poor construction on Tilcon’s end.

“Part of having you here is to take you out to see these sites,” said Town Manager Joe Sabatini.

Council officials, guests of the public, and small business owners met in the Shop-Rite plaza on Lackawanna Drive, where several contractor mistakes have been made.

Although NJDOT officials John Case and Debbie Hirt did not have permission to speak to the press on this situation, they did explain to the council what has been completed so far during the five-year project, with many comments of disappointment coming directly from council members themselves.

“There are constant excuses and I am tired of it,” said Councilman Scott Olson.

Olson pointed out how several sections of the sidewalk are a different shade of gray and most importantly, the various cracks already present.

“It is already cracking from cement improperly poured in 20 degree weather. Those are not favorable conditions,” he said.

It was explained to the council that there is an expansion in dye color every 20 feet, but fading will occur due to sunlight exposure, and the cement itself was poured on two separate occasions causing the difference in color.

Others voiced their concerns with the cracked sidewalks, signs which point in the wrong direction, blind spots where moving traffic is, construction during rush hour, businesses which need to be landscaped, and the constant flooding of Lubber’s Run Bridge.

“You are supposed to be able to walk under the bridge to the other side of the road, but it is continually overflowing,” Olson said.

Mayor Jim Oscovitch said the water gets stuck in the dam, and makes a U-turn into the walkway, which overflows the water.

Mistakes in this project have effected the small business owners on Rt. 206.

Sabatini led the group to Sunnyside Garden and Gifts, and introduced the NJDOT officials to Randi Klein, who previously owned the business when it was Lockwood Farms. Klein said her business went under when construction trucks were constantly blocking her business and making it hard for customers to enter the parking lot.

“Her business was lost from construction for over two years,” Sabatini said. “The contractor was disrespectful to the business owners.”

Sabatini asked if the business could be compensated for its loss of income, but Hirt said the question has been asked a lot, and they do not compensate for loss of a business.

“I’m self-employed and today I am losing money to come out for this," said Olson. “I can’t help but think of the businesses who have gone through this for almost five years.”

This construction project has cost the township $18.3 million dollars and is intended to widen Rt. 206 into four lanes, which will help traffic during its busiest times.

The NJDOT officials took notes and explained that the completion of the project is scheduled for September.

Sabatini said he hopes people to use Rt. 206 once again and have the town’s businesses flourish.

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