GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Almost six months after county officials said repairs would be done to the bumpy, weather-damaged Motts Creek Road during the spring, work has not yet started.
Atlantic County Planner Joe Maher said larger and more pressing projects, including those on Tilton and Fire roads, took up time this spring.
“And work at the Garden State Parkway exits 41 and 44 took longer than we thought it would. Also, the EH 21 Bridge over English Creek, which is about a $4 million project. We’re also still responding to some of the storm damage, so we ran behind a little bit,” Maher said.
This week, the county sent the 27-page design plan for the Motts Creek Road repairs to the state Department of Transportation, Maher said.
Gregg Parker, owner of the Motts Creek Inn at the east end of the road, is not happy about the delay. He said business at the local watering hole has suffered.
Parker said he has written letter after letter to the county, begging for help with the road, which he says is unsafe and caused damage to an employee’s vehicle.
“I’m very concerned that if anyone ever gets hurt, sick, injured or anything needing medical attention that the road is so bad it may delay access for emergency vehicles to get down there in a typical response time and get someone out of there for the same reason,” Parker said.
Parker said he has turned to the bar’s Facebook page and asked followers and patrons to help by complaining to county officials about the road’s condition.
County officials said Motts Creek Road accounts for a small piece of the county’s 375 miles of road that need to be maintained.
The county is prioritizing the money spent on road projects, Maher said. The Motts Creek Road project will cost about $1 million.
During the past five years, almost $46.2 million has been spent on road projects, according to the county’s five-year highway report. That price tag involved less than 8 percent of the county’s roads, or about 28.4 miles of repaving.
“Given the volume of the traffic on the roads, and if you compare that Motts Creek Road to Tilton or Fire Road where you have thousands of cars traveling every day, those projects come first,” Maher said.
Motts Creek Road has potholes that are filled regularly, but the road is safe, Maher said. Drivers just cannot travel at fast speeds.
Atlantic County Administrator Gerald DelRosso said the design for the Motts Creek Road project was done in-house. Physical work cannot begin until the state approves the plans, he said.
DelRosso said it took several months to complete the design for the project because there are only so many county designers available.
The county has 40 bridges and about 11 roads, including Fire and Tilton roads, that are under some form of work, including design, DelRosso said.
The Motts Creek Road project will be paid for with state funding of more than $3 million that the county receives each year, he said.
“It’s not that we’re not moving. There are only certain things we can do until it’s approved. Unless we are prepared to go spend county tax dollars on these roads, then we have to follow the process the state requires,” he said.
The county is waiting for approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection to complete work at a failing bulkhead on Motts Creek Road that has contributed to flooding there, he added.
“People think that things happen overnight. We’re held to a different standard. It could be very fast, or it could get caught up. Hopefully, the DOT will approve this pretty quickly,” he said.
He said Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson will not return his phone calls or meet with him about the road.
Levinson could not be reached Wednesday, but during an interview with The Press of Atlantic City in February, he agreed Motts Creek Road is in terrible condition and blamed a long and wet winter in 2010, Tropical Storm Irene, last June’s derecho thunderstorms and Hurricane Sandy for the damage to the region’s roads.
But Parker contends the county has continued to make empty promises and pretend to mark out the road every few weeks to make it appear that work will start any day.
“Here it is almost mid-July, and it’s still a mess. I know — guaranteed — that we lost motorcycle business this summer because no one wants to take their bike down that road. Business would be better if the road was better,” he said.
- Contact Donna Weaver:
- Follow @DonnaKWeaver on Twitter