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news release

Contact: Rae Hutton
RELEASE: July 3, 2001

Governor DiFrancesco Issues
Executive Order To Make State Eligible
For Federal Funds For Route 80 Repairs

Acting Governor Donald T. DiFrancesco issued an executive order today that makes New Jersey eligible to apply for emergency funds from the Federal Highway Administration to repair Route 80 in Morris County.

Under terms of the order he signed this afternoon, DiFrancesco declared a state of emergency in Morris County as the result of the June 22 accident that ignited 8,200 gallons of gasoline, damaging the roadway and bridge, which had to be closed. A temporary roadway has since been constructed by the state Department of Transportation, but traffic tie-ups still exist during rush hour, diverting many of the thousands of cars that travel Route 80 on a daily basis onto local roads in surrounding communities and onto Routes 10, 23 and 46.

"Route 80 is the major east-west route through New Jersey and one of the most heavily traveled highways in the country," said the acting Governor. "Not only are hundreds of thousands of motorists inconvenienced on a daily basis, there are economic and quality of life issues affecting businesses and residents in the area."

DiFrancesco said the state would continue to pursue "every avenue to recoup the cost of the repairs from the responsible parties."

The executive order directs the DOT to take any action necessary to repair the damage and to take all the necessary steps to apply for emergency relief funding so the temporary and permanent repairs to the structure can be undertaken immediately.

"NJDOT is taking all emergency actions necessary and has been working around the clock to protect the road and structure from further damage and to resume regular traffic flow, but realistically, this is a serious problem that warrants extraordinary action so traffic and life in the area can get back to normal," said DiFrancesco.

Executive order attached


WHEREAS, on June 22, 2001, three commercial vehicles traveling along I-80 west were involved in an accident at the bridge over Den Brook at milepost #39 in Denville, Morris County, New Jersey; and

WHEREAS, the accident caused a breach in a commercial tanker hauling approximately 8,200 gallons of gasoline, which flowed onto the roadway and into the nearby drainage; and which ignited, causing serious damage to and catastrophic failure of the roadway and bridge; and

WHEREAS, the bridge was found to be structurally unsound due to the intense heat of the fire, requiring closure of the roadway and replacement of the deck and structural members down to the abutments; and

WHEREAS, the spill and fire also caused environmental damage in the surrounding area; and

WHEREAS, the aforesaid circumstances constitute a hazard which threatens and presently endangers the health, safety and resources of the residents of one or more municipalities of this State; and which is too large in scope to be handled by the normal municipal operating services;

WHEREAS, the Constitution and statutes of the State of New Jersey, particularly the provisions of the Laws of 1942, Chapter 251 (N.J.S.A. App. A:9-33 et seq.) and all amendments and supplements thereto, confer upon the Governor of the State of New Jersey certain emergency powers;

THEREFORE, I, Donald T. DiFrancesco, President of the Senate, Acting Governor of the State of New Jersey, in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of the State of New Jersey:

  1. Declare and proclaim that a State of Emergency has existed and presently exists in Morris County; and

  2. Empower, in accordance with the Laws of 1942, Chapter 251 (N.J.S.A. A:9-33 et seq.) as supplemental and amended, the State Director of Emergency Management, who is the Superintendent of State Police, through the police agencies under his control, to determine the control and direction of the flow of such vehicular traffic on any State Highway, municipal or county road, including the right to detour, reroute or divert any or all traffic and to prevent ingress or egress from any area, that, in the State Director's discretion, is deemed necessary for the protection of the health, safety and welfare of the public, and to remove parked or abandoned vehicles from such roadways as conditions warrant; and

  3. Authorize, in accordance with the Laws of 1942, Chapter 251 (N.J.S.A. App. A9-34), as supplemented and amended, the Attorney General, pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 39:4-213, acting through the Superintendent of the Division of State Police, to determine the control and direction of the flow of vehicular traffic on any State or Interstate highway, and its access roads, including the right to detour, reroute or divert any or all traffic, and to prevent ingress or egress from any area to which the declaration of emergency applies, and further authorize all law enforcement officers to enforce any such order of the Superintendent of State Police within their respective municipalities; and

  4. Authorize the State Director of Emergency Management to order the evacuation of all persons, except for those emergency and governmental personnel whose presence the State Director deems necessary, from any area where their continued presence would present a danger to their health, safety or welfare because of the conditions created by this emergency; and

  5. Authorize and empower the State Director of Emergency Management to utilize all facilities owned, rented, operated and maintained by the State of New Jersey to house and shelter persons who may be stranded during the course of this emergency; and

  6. Reserve, in accordance with the Law of 1942, Chapter 251 (N.J.S.A. App. A:9-34), as supplemented and amended, the right to utilize and employ all available resources of the State government and of each and every political subdivision of the State, whether of persons, properties or instrumentalities, and to commandeer and utilize any personal services and any privately owned property necessary to protect against this emergency; and

  7. Direct the Commissioner of Transportation to undertake immediately all acts necessary to accomplish, as expeditiously as possible, the restoration and repair of the damaged proportion of I-80 and to take all necessary steps to obtain emergency repair funds available pursuant to 23 U.S.C. § 125 and any other applicable law; and

  8. Declare that it shall be the duty of every person or entity in this State or doing business in this State, and the members of the governing body, and of each and every official, agent or employee of every political subdivision in this State and of each member of other governmental bodies, agencies and authorities in this State of any nature whatsoever, fully to cooperate with the Commissioners of Environmental Protection and Transportation, the Attorney General, and the State Director of Emergency Management in all matters concerning this emergency; and

  9. Declare, pursuant to the Laws of 1942, Chapter 251, as supplemented and amended (N.J.S.A. App. A:9-40), that no municipality, county or any other agency or political subdivision of this State shall enact or enforce any order, rule, regulation, ordinance or resolution which will or might in any way interfere with or impede the achievement of the purposes of this Order.

  10. This act shall take effect immediately and shall remain in effect until such time as it is determined by me that an emergency no longer exists.

GIVEN, under my hand and seal
this day of
in the Year of Our Lord, Two
Thousand One, and of the
Independence of the United
States, the Two Hundred and

Donald T. DiFrancesco
President of the Senate, Acting Governor


James A. Harkness
Chief Counsel to the Governor

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