Belleville Mayor Calls on State to Finally Fix Dangerous Intersection

BELLEVILLE, NJ – September 5, 2019 – For longer than anyone cares to remember, the corner of Main and Rutgers streets, along State Highway Route 7, has been a dangerous intersection for both motorists and pedestrians.

Township officials say they have reached a boiling point of frustration, as the state Department of Transportation (DOT) has still not scheduled a date for the necessary paving. Essex County officials are also involved, trying to schedule a meeting with the state to hash out a Jurisdictional Agreement so that work can finally commence.

At the moment, the project appears to be at a standstill, according to Belleville Mayor Michael Melham.

Essex County paved Rutgers Street but did not do any upgrades to the intersection, which county and local officials say is the state’s responsibility.

“The state originally claimed that Main and Rutgers streets wasn’t its responsibility, and refused to fix or pave the dangerous amounts of potholes riddling the intersection,” Melham said. “Our police chief has called it a severe public safety concern and we have had residents nearly killed attempting to change tires in the intersection.”

Because of the horrid condition of the intersection, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. stepped in to say the county would make the necessary repairs and then deal with the state. A press conference was even scheduled to make the grand announcement; work was finally to commence.

“But then the DOT stepped in and said it would take responsibility for the intersection and pave it, changing the county’s construction plans,” the mayor said. “So the county milled and paved Rutgers Street, without doing the intersection, as the state had promised to do the work.”

But DOT officials have yet to sign an agreement, leaving the heavily-traveled intersection unpaved and more dangerous than ever.

“The residents of Belleville and all those who travel State Highway Route 7 still await a DOT update,” Melham said. “Personally, I’m still awaiting a reply from my latest correspondence to the state, dated on August 19.”