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The Light at the End of the Ramp


By Joy Belgiovine

Nearly two years late, the new traffic signal on the ramp from Route 17 northbound to South Summit in Hackensack was activated and the ramp reopened on Monday evening,

The project, which included replacing the existing, structurally deficient bridge deck; resurfacing the bridge approaches; installing a new signal on the ramp; and installing new sidewalks, lighting and guiderail was launched in March 2011. J. Fletcher Creamer & Son in partnership with Joseph M. Sanzari carried out the $4.8 million federally-funded project.

The state Department of Transportation initially estimated that the completion date would be November 2011.

Coinciding with this work was a separate $9.9 million project to replace the existing, structurally deficient bridge deck and superstructure carrying Route 17 northbound across all lanes of Route 80 and the widening of the bridge to provide a new deceleration lane on the left exiting to South Summit Avenue. This work, which also began March 2011, had an expected completion date of fall 2012.

Both projects have resulted in several detours along Route 17. Northbound traffic was forced to use two nearby exits for Essex Street to access South Summit Avenue and a NJ Transit bus stop was eliminated, much to the frustration of commuters.

In recent weeks, the state, PSE&G and the City of Hackensack have received pressure by residents and the local media to provide an explanation for the delay in the project’s completion. All that’s resulted is a series of finger pointing.

A state spokesman said his agency was waiting on work to be finished by the utility company, while PSE&G pointed the finger at the state DOT’s contractor who was slow in installing the electrical conduit and wires from the utility pole to the pedestal of the traffic light. Once this work was completed, PSE&G then needed a state approval to conduct its own final inspection before providing electric service to the light.

“Many people live in the hill section because it is a good commute to New York,” said Richard Samulka. “This project has made my commute miserable for 2 and a half years for a project that was supposed to take eight months.”

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