Delay doesn’t stop progress

By AUBRIE GEORGE

A one-day halt in construction of state road projects last week did not appear to affect progress at the intersection of routes 70 and 73.

On Oct. 4, the state called a stop to state-funded projects because resources to pay for the projects had reached critically low levels due to a delay in the approval of bond sales.

DOT spokesman, Timothy Greeley, said the stop in construction shut down was only in effect for one day.

“At an emergency meeting held yesterday morning the Joint Budget Oversight Committee (JBOC) voted to approve the Transportation Trust Fund Authority bond sale and refinancing plan that had originally forced the shutdown of all state-funded construction projects. All work has resumed as of this morning,” Greeley said in e-mail to The Telegram last Tuesday.

Greeley said it did not appear that construction at routes 70 and 73 was affected by the halt in construction. The $31 million project is on schedule, with a winter 2011 end date in sight. The amount spent, so far, on the project is about $23.8 million, Greeley said.

In related news, a jury awarded the owner of The Marlton Crossing shopping Center, Marlton Plaza Associates, $1.6 million in an eminent domain lawsuit. Marlton Plaza Associates sued the NJDOT for taking one of their three driveways in eliminating the circle.

The state had originally offered to pay the property owner $194,000 for the driveway, according to the Web site of Fox Rothschild, LLP, the law firm of attorney David Snyder, who represented Marlton Plaza Associates in the lawsuit.

Snyder argued the amount the state offered only compensated the property owner for the value of the land, not for the impact that losing a driveway, or access point to the shopping center, would have.

“New Jersey, like many states, limits a property owner’s ability to obtain damages for a change in access. Generally, New Jersey property owners are not permitted to seek such damages as long as the remaining access is reasonable,” Snyder wrote in his blog on the Web site. “However, there are exceptions including if the change in access caused ‘on site impact’ such as vehicular maneuverability issues.”

Meanwhile, construction at the intersection continues and is currently focused on the new overpass. Soon, construction will begin on roadway approaches to the overpass, the ramp from Route 70 westbound to Route 73 northbound, drainage along Route 73 northbound, reconstruction of Route 70 under the bridge and final paving throughout, Greeley said.

The interchange improvement project began in April 2009 to eliminate the traffic circle at the intersection of routes 70 and 73. The circle is being replaced with a new overpass carrying Route 73 over Route 70. The two highways will be connected via the construction of new local exit and entrance ramps. The circle pattern was effectively eliminated in May when traffic was shifted and a temporarily realigned intersection was established. The NJDOT has created a temporary at-grade intersection to handle traffic as construction continues to elevate the profile of Route 73 and construct the overpass, Greeley said. The new traffic pattern will remain in place for approximately one year before Route 73 traffic will be shifted onto the overpass.

Construction updates and other information about the Marlton Circle elimination project can be found at www.state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/roads/marltoncircle.