NJ officials worried part of I-80 may experience ‘sudden failure’
You know that stretch of I-80 after you cross into New Jersey from Pennsylvania where the margin between mountains and the Delaware River gets incredibly small? Think Mount Tammany in Knowlton Township.
For as beautiful of a drive as this part of I-80 may be, it's troubling to learn some officials believe it's a distinct possibility it could be taken away from us at any moment.
According to the New Jersey Herald, a state Department of Transportation internal committee met last week to advance a project to study damage to the retaining wall that supports this raised section of highway.
The meeting's agenda suggests the wall may be "subject to sudden failure."
The agenda, according to the Herald, goes on to say it "does not meet current serviceability requirements due to its minimal reinforcement," adding the issue could not only pose a risk to travelers but "result in a closure of I-80."
The estimated cost of the repairs to the wall's crack and deterioration stands at $51 million.
Between the deterioration of the wall and a minimum 12-inch-deep crack, the powers that be have to come together now to find a solution.
New Jerseyans are used to dangerous driving conditions. I-287 routinely shows up on lists of the most treacherous roadways in New Jersey and the rest of the U.S.
The Pulaski Skyway, which carries an express route for Routes 1&9, was dangerous up until recently. In the 2000s the Pulaski Skyway was considered functionally obsolete because its design did not meet highway bridge standards. Then in 2007, officials rated it structurally deficient. But of course, due to all the red tape, action was not taken right away.
Why prioritize the safety of your state's drivers, after all?
The ball did eventually get rolling on the Pulaski Skyway rehabilitation project, and significant progress was made. But let's face it, we're lucky we didn't end up in a much more dire situation.
The retaining wall in question along I-80 is over a quarter-mile long and was built in the 1950s. The Pulaski Skyway opened Nov. 24, 1932. I'm no expert when it comes to road construction, but maybe the DOT should be consistently keeping tabs on the aging infrastructure around our state, rather than waiting until a critical point where you have no choice but to unload millions of dollars in taxpayer money, and perhaps deal with a death toll in the process.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 producer, writer, and host Joe Votruba. Any opinions expressed are his own.