Senator supports state plan, will present Byram's opposition to the DOT

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:51

    BYRAM-While Byram continues to push for a scaled down version of the Route 206 expansion plan sought by the state, a staff member in Senator Robert Littell's office said the legislator has little desire to see anything changed and considers the issue dead. Despite his reservations, the senator has agreed to take a limited role in bringing the two parties together. Councilman Earl Riley recently requested that Littell assist the Byram council by arranging a face to face meeting with the Department of Transportation to revisit points on the plan the municipality finds unacceptable. However, Janet Blum, director of administration for Littell, said the issue has been bandied about too long and it is time to move on. "It appears as if the issues have been spoken about to death," said Blum, commenting on Riley's request. "I am not sure if anything can be addressed." Littell asked Riley to provide a specific outline of why the council wanted the meeting. In his response, Riley explained that the intent of the council was not to slow down or prevent the expansion but to have the DOT readdress five points of contention that include the refusal, according to the township, of the DOT to look at alternate solutions to widening the road, and the impact of the current work on Route 605 will have on the area and Route 206 (See sidebar). According to Blum, Littell forwarded the council's concerns on to the DOT but he is not going to immediately try to arrange a meeting. Instead, he plans to sit down with the Byram town council and present to them the DOT's response. A meeting between the state and council might be scheduled later, but Blum explained that as far as the state is concerned, the DOT has done all that it could to accommodate Byram. "It seems they (the town council) will say they will do this and this and this and then they want more and more and more," said Blum. "I do not know how much the DOT is willing to negotiate. It is going to take some arm twisting to get them to sit down again. They have given Byram every latitude that they could." Blum reiterated that Littell is pushing for the plan to be implemented immediately as is. "We are not going to back down from our support of the project. It needs to be done," said Blum. In the past, Littell has voiced his concern that funding for the project would be reallocated to other projects out of the area if delays continued. In addition, he has stated that the area has long needed the project to alleviate traffic congestion and dangerous intersection configurations. According to Littell, recent development and population growth in Sussex County has exacerbated the need for this project Blum expects a response from the DOT by the end of the week after which a meeting between Littell and the Byram town council will be scheduled.