Pandemic silver lining: NJ road work done quicker
COVID-19 has affected pretty much everything under the sun including school, work, weddings, funerals, indoor dining, parties, holiday get-togethers and so much more. But it's business as usual when it comes to construction on New Jersey roadways.
Stephen Schapiro, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said road construction has continued in a normal, even an accelerated, fashion. When the pandemic started in March, Schapiro said the state DOT expanded its allowable construction hours because of lower traffic volumes.
That means work is starting an hour earlier and going an hour later than what is normally done. This allowed contractors to stay on schedule, sometimes even get ahead of schedule.
Traffic remains lighter than usual during the pandemic, which has helped contractors complete projects more efficiently, said Schapiro. Generally, there are restricted hours when work is allowed to take place because they don't want to have an effect on traffic, particularly during the morning and afternoon commutes. But Schapiro said due to low traffic volumes, the work period can be extended so more work can be completed.
Also, lighter traffic has led state road construction projects to be shifted from nighttime work to daytime work. That has allowed more work to get done and get done safely, said Schapiro.
Workers and contractors are being protected on the job, he said. That includes proper personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves and following proper guidelines. Working outside helps keep the virus at bay. Field offices are routinely disinfected, too.
The DOT has been working on Route 495 project in North Jersey, which should be completed some time in 2021. The Route 7-Wittpenn Bridge project in Hudson County is expected to conclude in the spring or summer.
In 2021, the state DOT will have an additional $600 million in its capital projects, which will allow them to get more work on the street projects that were "shovel ready."
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