Caution: Roadwork

By on July 11, 2017

Its summer and prime time for roadwork. Schools are out, which makes things a lot easier (I’m assuming) for road crews. Traffic SHOULD be less too. I know in my town there are a LOT of roads that need some attention.

My own little dead-end got paved last summer. It was a pain in the you know what as the 14 or so families on the block had to find places to move their cars and leave them. The later you got home from work, the further away you had to park. Unfortunately for me (at least when it comes to the parking situation), I go to work early and get home late most days in the summer. (But then I get home early on Friday.)

I don’t recall if I moaned about last year’s situation. (Knowing me I probably did.) But I/we did get a really nicely paved street as a result. A year later it’s still pretty nice.

Over the past several months or so, many of the town streets have been closed off and portions dug up as PSEG started to replace and repair old piping. It needs to be done, but it seemed like roads were closed one day and open the next and then closed again and then open…well, you get the idea. I’d drop off my son at HBW and never know which way I was going to end up going to get to the east side of town.

And it wasn’t just Verona. As I would try to figure out my way to get to Route 3 (everyone’s nightmare of a highway) to get to work (or to get home), I never knew which roads would be open when. There were signs for roadwork, but weeks would go by and there would be nothing. Then, all of a sudden it would start again. Then stop. And then start. (Anyone who goes to or drive by Montclair State University knows what I am talking about. Woodlawn Avenue has been opened and closed since at least May!) I’m sure there is a rhyme and reason to all of this, but no one has told me and I sure can’t figure it out! This all makes my commute a “fun” (ha!) game as I try to figure out which way to go and what to avoid. (Traffic backed up on Route 3? If I get off at Grove will Woodlawn be closed? If I get off at Valley will they be doing construction there again? Is it safe to try Ridge Road or are they still tearing up and paving north of Reservoir Drive?) Since it’s constantly changing, I always have to be on my toes or I’ll end up on the road to nowhere. (Which has happened once or twice; usually when I am in a rush and trying to get home! For those of you in the Montclair/Clifton area; McCosh Road North WILL take you to Valley Road, but Pearl Brook Drive dead ends. That is unless you turn on Edwards Road and either get onto McCosh or head back to Grove.)

As I’m sure you are all painfully aware, Claremont Avenue was recently closed due to paving. Not just sections (as in from Pompton Avenue to Elmwood or Otsego to Cumberland), but the whole darned thing! (Only those east of Pompton were “safe”.) Bet you didn’t’ realize how long and well-traveled Claremont was until they started working on it. Did you realize how many homes and housing complexes are also on it?

For all the people who lived there, it must have been a major pain NOT to be able to access their homes. But, it was ALSO a major pain for me (and all the residents of my block) as it is the ONLY way in and out of our street. And how about the one-way streets like Westview, Hillcrest and Church? How did you get in and out? Did you go the wrong way? (Inquiring minds want to know!)

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The big question was: Where were ALL these people going to park? (I’m sure city dwellers would have some creative answers for me.)

What started out as a few days, grew longer and longer. With the holiday weekend, work was put on hold for several days. (And here I thought that by going away for the long weekend we could avoid some of the mess and stress…WRONG!) While you COULD drive on the avenue, it was torn up and a plethora of cones, barrels and signs made it into an obstacle course.

When actual paving began it really became a game of musical cars. Told we’d have till 7 a.m. to move our cars (or not be able to move at all), I happened to notice police closing down streets as early as 6:15 a.m., while I was out on my morning walk. I hurried back to figure out where I should put the car. Martin Road was jam-packed. (I’m sure the residents were thrilled.) The Chase parking lot nearby was pretty full at 6:30 (never mind the fact that the bank doesn’t open until 8:30 and just as an aside, the branch will be closing permanently as of the 20th of this month) and parking in their lot would require some maneuvering to get me going in the right direction. (I need to head north on Pompton to get to work.)

So instead, I parked at the strip mall lot (across from Annin, where the work on the new housing complex starts really early…something I’m sure thrills those on Mount Prospect and Douglas Place), purchased a paper at NY Bagel Café (promising that I’d move my car within an hour since parking is only good there for 30 minutes) and walked up the hill (through a semi-private driveway) to my house. When I returned home at night it was late enough that I could get across the road and into my driveway.

The real challenge came AFTER the holiday weekend. Since the roadwork would start up again on the 5th, I’d need to get in and OUT of my block before 7 a.m. Driving up from the Jersey Shore I knew traffic could be an issue. So we left before 5 a.m.(hubby and I; the boy stayed behind for more Marine Science Camp fun). We got home a little after 6, just as the construction trucks were starting to move. I pulled in, dropped off hubby and luggage and pulled back out again parking a half a mile away. (I am not exaggerating…I had my walking app with me!)

That evening, I could see that nothing in our section had been done (despite the entire road being closed down). According to all notifications we had received, paving would be completed by the end of the next day.

My husband kept a close eye on the paving progress the next day. (As did several of our neighbors…this game of musical moving cars was obviously getting old for all of us.) He was there when a neighbor asked when the road would be open again and the work crew said the road should be open by eight that night.

Keeping that in mind, I had a “brilliant” idea. We had some errands that we needed to do, including the weekly grocery shopping. Why not do them that evening? By the time we finished and had dinner out; it would be after eight. With a “perfect” plan in mind, I drove not home, but to the strip mall where my husband met me. We did our errands, had dinner and went grocery shopping. We were done by 8:30 and happily headed home…

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…You know where this is going, don’t you?

Not only was the road still closed,it was blocked by multiple barrels and yellow caution tape. (Obviously left by the construction crew, NOT the police). So I pulled up as close as I could to where Martin Road abuts Claremont (which was not easy as cars were parked on both sides of the street I was on…something that is NOT legal), dropped hubby off (thankfully we did NOT have a lot of groceries that night). I backed up carefully (again not easy) and managed to find a spot on the north side of Overhill. (You CAN park on both side of the street.) Meanwhile, other cars, were breezing down hoping to get across only to find the road still blocked. Seems like a LOT of people had been told the road would be open that night.

I’ll admit, I was pretty peeved. (It didn’t help that a bunch of kids were on their bikes enjoying the new pavement.) Ducking under the tape I stormed up the block. I was not a pretty sight! I stormed back down around 10 that night…tape and barrels were still up. ARUGH! I was ready to take those barrels and throw them! (Where I do not know.) But being a law-abiding citizen (and a scaredy cat), I just fumed.

The next morning, Friday, it was raining, so I didn’t go out for my morning walk. But by 5:30 I noticed that the neighbors had their newspaper. The only way it could have appeared was if the road was open. The rain had let up, so I ran outside. There were no cars on our street, but the block was open. The lines of cars on the blocks surrounding us were still full to capacity (so obviously no one else was aware of the situation). I found my car and drove home.

And just in time…because by the time I had to head out to work it was pouring again. (Hurrah for me!)

I am, of course, grateful that the road has been paved. No more potholes to dodge. An easy surface to walk on. (I’d been avoiding the area on my morning walks.) But it WAS a big pain in the … And while it had to be done, it could have been better planned and organized. (But that’s could be the obsessive planner in me talking.) Besides, now that our road has been paved and this main thoroughfare has been paved, we should be good for quite some time.

Of course, there IS the sign that has just appeared on far south end of Pompton Avenue: “Caution: Roadwork Starting”.

Beth Shorten is a life-long resident of Verona. For more than four years, she has been chronicling life here on her personal site, Bfth’s Boring Blog.

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