I was on my way to show a house this week when I stumbled onto a bank of police cars signifying the ever increasing phenomena of—The Bergen County Road Closure. I just don’t recall it ever being so hard to get from one part of town to the other, whether to pick up groceries or drop a child off at an after-school activity. We are constantly running into road closures—NO LEFT TURN—FOLLOW THE DETOUR.
And if you try to outsmart the detour and go a different route it will turn out that there is a second road closing on your destination’s street and you will have to walk the last 500 feet to your appointment. It is of little comfort that the police officer who tells you that you can’t drive through often does it with a smile.
I decided to delve into this annoyance and understand what is happening. Perhaps I was just noticing these annoying utility convoys blocking the street more or an actual change was in the works, perhaps some new policy over at the utility companies.
Some investigating did highlight some changes, but not all of them related to the utility companies.Yes, after the Hurricane Sandy era when so many electric lines were taken down by falling trees the utility companies set out to raise all the main feeder electric lines to be higher than the tree line so that if branches and trees fell, the action would happen below the vulnerable electric lines. A huge effort was initiated to trim all the branches and hanging limbs that could potentially fall on these unprotected lines. And if you’re wondering why our electric “grid” is not underground as many of my customers ask, it’s just too expensive to change.
Turns out that the main project underway in our area is PSEG’s gas modernization program. The company has been upgrading gas main lines throughout the entire area including changing most of the gas meters to be read remotely. In addition, the increased demand for gas due to the popularity of home generators has necessitated the gas companies to upgrade their capabilities and much of what you see now are the widening of these gas lines.
Add to this all of the new construction in our area, which brings with it multiple road closures, for a new sewer line, gas line, electric line—and don’t forget new water service and cable as well.
But the biggest change is not the utility work. It’s the decision that was made in the name of safety, that all street work would need to be guarded by the town’s police department to ensure the safety of the travelling public. No longer would the road just narrow and drivers would take caution to avoid oncoming traffic. Today, a police officer will park his car perpendicular to the street blocking off all traffic leading to the ever ubiquitous full road closure. While these roadblocks are certainly frustrating—and have led to many interesting comments that muttered under my breath to no one in particular behind the closed windows of my car—I leave these decisions to people with more knowledge of traffic safety and trust that ultimately lives are being protected by these policies. I have learned to adapt and even give a warning to many of my customers that they should take a little extra time to get to their appointments as you never know when you will be hitting the next blockade.
Nechama Polak is broker of record and owner of V and N Group LLC located at 1401 Palisade Ave, Teaneck, New Jersey. [email protected] 201-826-8809.