Roads Program sees an uptick in construction

Nearly $2 million in road repairs are currently taking place on the streets of Haddonfield.

Haddonfield’s roads have been in need of repair for quite some time, according to John Moscatelli, the commissioner of public works, parks and public property. With the Roads Program in place to address the town’s aging infrastructure since 2015, construction has steadily been taking place to address the streets most in need of repair, but as of late, residents may have noticed an increased visibility to the work when trying to navigate through town.

Having come in under budget last year, the program has seen an uptick in repairs this year, with nearly $2 million spent to pave and resurface local roads, including West Atlantic Avenue, Ellis Street, Center Street, Concord Drive, West Park Avenue and Walnut Street, among others.

Moscatelli said addressing borough roads is a constant and ongoing process. He said the town spent decades not repairing roads. Prior to the implementation of the Roads Program, Moscatelli remembers talking with people about Haddonfield, and he’d often hear people say it’s a lovely town but the roads are in terrible shape.

“The roads really are in bad shape — what the engineers might say beyond their end of life,” Moscatelli said.

Around 2006, the borough started addressing the roads on a smaller scale than today’s work. Moscatelli said the borough brought in engineers from Remington & Vernick Engineers to compile a database evaluating every block of road in town. He said they took a look at the roads in the worst condition and tried to determine which roads to package together when doing the repairs.

Repairs began really picking up steam between six and eight years ago when the borough started spending $1 million on road work each year. Moscatelli said the round number was a good idea in theory, but they quickly realized that only spending $1 million on repairs each year was not enough. By the time the borough finally finished all the roads in need of repair, the earliest roads fixed would need to be updated again, Moscatelli said.

Things changed when the borough sold its water service to New Jersey American Water in 2015. Prior to the sale, the borough financed roadwork yearly with $600,000 in cash and $400,000 in bonding. However, selling the utility freed up the borough’s debt service, and ever since, the borough has financed $1.75 million in road projects completely in cash.

The increased funding has enabled the borough to work more efficiently. Moscatelli said construction crews do more roads at once, which has dropped the cost for the borough and led to this year’s surplus to address more roads than initially anticipated.

Every five years, the borough updates the roads database to stay abreast of road conditions and changes its plan based on evolving road ratings. Moscatelli said the road work scheduled is based solely on road conditions. He said he understands residents’ desire to get their streets repaired when they see the construction taking place in town, but the borough is also trying to get all of the repairs done without raising taxes.

“We know unfortunately we have a lot of bad roads in town,” Moscatelli said. “No one really wants to see their taxes get hiked.”

Overall, however, Moscatelli said residents have been overwhelmingly happy to see the work done. He said he’s not sure why so much of Haddonfield’s infrastructure slipped for so long until recently.

“I don’t quite know why our town did such a terrible job with infrastructure,” Moscatelli said. “The zeitgeist in town was don’t look, don’t ask and move along. I applaud the school board for taking the bull by the horns.”

The Haddonfield School District is in the midst of an approximately $35 million referendum construction project is seeing work done to nearly every building in the district this summer.

Well-maintained roads are one of the basic items taxpayers expect their tax dollars to go toward, Moscatelli said. Residents with questions about when their street will be worked on can refer to the 2017–2017 proposed road construction schedule posted on the borough’s website at http://www.haddonfieldnj.org.