Mayor's Message - 2018

Mayor’s Message - May 5, 2018

Many of you may be aware of the Rock Fall Mitigation project being proposed by NJ DOT in the Hardwick and Knowlton sections of Route 80 in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DWGNRA).

If you’re not familiar with this project, here is an overview of what is being proposed:

NJDOT plans to install a ½-mile long series of high industrial fences as well as a 60-foot high concrete, stepped pyramid, called a “rockfall berm,” on the eastbound side of Route 80 on the section that runs through Knowlton and Hardwick. The stated intention is to prevent rocks from falling into the roadway. However, DOT has not been able to provided any quantifiable data on the actual number of rocks that fallen on that section of highway over the years. While there are approximately 70-80 traffic accidents annually on this stretch of the road, virtually all of those accidents are due to the road’s narrowness and “s” curves, and are not related to falling rocks. This project does not address any road widening or improvements caused by the "s" curves that are the actual causes of those 70-80 accidents per year. Construction is slated to begin in June 2020 with an estimated cost of on this $55 to $64 million dollars. The Township Committees of Hardwick and Knowlton oppose the project because its need is debatable, its cost is excessive, and its impacts on a natural landmark of NJ will be severe. An industrial fence and concrete pyramid through the Delaware Water Gap will permanently mar what is a natural and national attraction. The Delaware Water Gap Park is a national scenic landmark and it provides the first impressions of New Jersey for east bound travelers coming into our state from points west. Knowlton Mayor Adele Starrs and I have been actively opposing the project and have met with our state and county officials to share our concerns. We have also met with local officials from the small towns on the Pennsylvania side of the river to educate them about the impacts to their local economies and infrastructures from the diverted traffic. Based on our efforts, a number of those municipalities have joined Knowlton, Hardwick and other Warren County towns in passing resolutions opposing the project. And thanks to the efforts of Senator Steve Oroho's office, we have finally been been able to schedule a face to face meeting next week with NJ DOT to review all aspects of the project, including need, scope, cost and justification for marring the natural beauty of the DWGNRA.

Here is a link to a recent article about this meeting that appeared in the NJ Herald.

http://www.njherald.com/20180501/opposition-to-i-80-rock-fence-spurs-meeting-of-state- local-officials#//

I will continue to post updates here on the Hardwick Municipal website to keep you informed about the results of this meeting and our continued efforts to oppose this project as it is currently proposed.

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