By Cheryl Conway
Potholes still linger on streets in Mt. Olive so residents are being asked to pitch in by using the township’s online system to report any left unfilled.
Like other towns, severe freeze cycles this past winter has caused a plague of potholes compared to recent years but officials in Mt. Olive are diving in to increase awareness and explain the process. They
are also considering what can be augmented or changed, such as increasing staff within the township’s Department of Public Works, to improve the situation.
“We certainly understand the frustration when it comes to potholes,” says Council President Joe Nicastro. “There is a process in place to fix them but depending on the weather repairs have been interrupted especially this year with the extreme rain we have been having.”
Bad weather seems to be the issue at hand as far as the cause of increased potholes, as well as the delay in getting them repaired by summer’s end.
“It’s the same concerns that sadly plague most Northern NJ towns,” explains Councilman Alex Roman.
“This winter had significant thaws and freezes which created an inordinate amount of potholes.” Compared to more recent years, Mt. Olive has an increased number of potholes this year.
For 2018, the Public Works Department has handled 390 work orders related to pot hole repair, compared to 220 in 2017; 138 in 2016; 344 in 2015; and 429 in 2014, says Mt. Olive Twp. Business Administrator Andrew Tatarenko.
“This year has been difficult to keep up as there was a string of small snow events in December, followed by blizzards in January and a number of nor’easters in March,” explains Tatarenko. The severe
freeze-thaw cycles has made potholes more prevalent this year compared to prior years.”
As bad weather continued, so has the delay in filling those potholes.
“The late storms also pushed back the schedule of when our Public Works Department typically fills pot holes,” explains Tatarenko. “While potholes are filled throughout the year, early spring is when the majority of repairs are done.”
Repair of potholes typically begin “As soon as the temperature stays above freezing,” notes Roman. But that was not the case this year. “Due to the nor’easters in March which caused significant tree damage, the DPW was tasked with removing large amounts of residential debris which extended the chipping program and delayed pot hole repair,” explains Tatarenko.
Staffing issues did not help. “Furthermore, there were a number of staffing related issues, as employees were transferred, retiring
and out on work related injuries,” adds Tatarenko. “The majority of potholes that are being repaired are on roads that are scheduled to be repaved this summer.”
Roman is looking into these staffing issues with hopes for improvement. “From what I’ve gathered, the issue is lack of manpower,” says Roman. “I will be seeking to increase the staff of
The issue is “The potholes are being repaired but not as quickly as most of us would like,” says Roman. “As far as I’m aware it’s the same procedure and that is something that we will be looking into seeing if
it needs to be changed or augmented.”
Mt. Olive officials continue its same process in filling potholes but have asked residents to use its online system to improve communication.
“The process of filling and reporting potholes has not changed, however, we are encouraging residents to use our online service request to report an issue,” says Tatarenko.
“Potholes are then prioritized and repaired depending on size, severity and how frequent the road is traveled,” he says. “Potholes are responded to quickly, especially those that create a safety concern.”
Tatarenko explains that “When evaluating which roads need to be repaved, the Public Works Department prioritizes and recommends which streets should be considered based on several factors.
The condition of the road is compared with how heavily travelled the road is and the cost associated to make such repairs. The roads are then selected based on the overall budget.
“The goal is to repave as many roads as possible, while still keeping taxes low and balancing the needs of all the other departments (public safety, recreation, health services, etc.),” he says.
In 2018, $1.4 million has been allocated for road repairs which include full mill and pave jobs as well as pothole repairs, says Tatarenko. An additional $500K which will be partially funded with a NJDOT grant, was also appropriated to repave ITC North (Rt. 46 – Clark Drive). Construction is anticipated to start in September.
“Once all the scheduled roads are repaved, the potholes will be more manageable,” says Tatarenko.
Residents are being asked to notify Mt. Olive Township officials to request pothole repairs by creating a service request by visiting www.mountolivetownship.com.