The Roads Most Traveled: Seven Mahwah Streets To Be Repaved In 2012
One large project is prohibiting the town from paving other roads, officials say
In 2012, residents can expect a smoother ride down West Airmount Road, Ridge Road, Moffat Road, Lawrence Road, Bellgrove Drive, Armour Road and the section of Mahwah Road between Oweno and Malcolm Roads, on the side of the Betsy Ross School. Mahwah’s Town Council tentatively approved budgeting for the repaving projects of those roads Wednesday night.
The most extensive, and most expensive, project will be on W. Airmount, between Island Road and Franklin Turnpike. According to township Business Administrator Brian Campion, a corrugated metal pipe that runs underneath the street has corroded and needs to be replaced. “This needs to be done this year or the road will start caving in,” he said Wednesday.
The cost of replacing the pipe, which Campion said is about 40 years old, and repaving the street will be about $590,000. Campion said he anticipates the roadwork happening in July or August of this year.
In addition to a high volume of cars on the roadway, it also houses a storm drain, and guides rainwater from Franklin Turnpike to Masonicus Brook. “It is probably one of the most beat-up on roads in the township,” Town Council President John Spiech said at Wednesday’s meeting.
The other major road improvement project in Mahwah this year will be on Ridge Road, from the Lenape Meadows School to the W. Ramapo Ave. intersection. That repaving, which officials said would take place during the summer while the four township schools on the road are not in session, will cost the township $350K. Of that, the township is expecting to receive $150K in an annual state Department of Transportation grant, “though that has not yet been confirmed,” Campion said.
Township road improvement projects, which officials say cannot be performed on any county or state roads in Mahwah, are paid for through the township’s capital budget, which “works differently” than it’s operating budget, Campion said. The town pays for about five percent of the total cost now, and takes out a bond to cover the rest of the cost, which it pays back over the next ten years. According to Campion, “each year we are paying back more than we are borrowing.”
Deciding which roads get paved, save W. Airmount, which officials said is a special condition that needs to be remedied this year, is done via a ratings system. The township engineer and DPW compile a list of roads that should be paved, and rate them in terms of how severe the damage to each road is, and the priority level of getting it repaved.
This year’s list had 24 roads on it, the town council said. “We pave as many roads as we can afford to,” Campion said. “If we had more money, we’d pave more roads.”
Township administration initially only asked the council to budget for the two major projects and a repaving of Moffat Rd. at a cost of $36K, in addition to a section of Armour Rd. that is being repaved as part of a water pipe replacement project. However, the council voted to appropriate more money into Mahwah’s capital spending budget to fix additional roadways.
“To pave only four roads is totally inadequate,” Council Vice President Harry Williams said. “This past Saturday, I drove every road on the engineer’s list. Some of them, and a lot of others I passed along the way, are in horrendous condition.”
Williams created a report of 34 township roads with his “personal” feeling about which the town should repave this year. “We are not fulfilling our obligation [to residents] if we don’t pave more roads.”
According to Mayor Bill Laforet, the $590K chunk out of this year’s road program budget for W. Airmount is prohibiting Mahwah from fixing many of the other streets that need to be repaved. “We would be doing more if not for this one major project,” he said Wednesday.
According to Campion, the township has “had a very aggressive road program over the past 10 years or so. We have paved 13 miles of road in the past five years, and that doesn’t count all of Wyckoff Ave., and a section of 202 which were paved by the county.” Campion said the town has been completing an average of $750K to $1M worth of roadwork a year.
Officials say about 85-90 miles of roads in Mahwah are township roads. There are 15-20 miles of county roads and 6 miles of state roads.
Calculator in hand Wednesday night, Williams said the math didn’t add up. “Doing an average of three percent of our township roads every year is not acceptable,” he said. “At this rate, it’ll take us 35 years to get through the whole town.”
After Williams’ appeal, the council voted to add $128,000 to the capital budget to pay for the repaving of Lawrence, the bottom of Bellgrove, and the stretch of Mahwah Rd. by Betsy Ross.
Should the DOT grant be approved, the township will be spending about $1M on road improvements this year, five percent of which will actually be paid for now. The rest will be borrowed.
“We would hope that next year we don’t have one major, time sensitive project, so we can fix a greater number of roads with that amount of money,” Laforet said.