NJDOT announces “Clean Up NJ” campaign to improve appearance of state highways
Campaign targets litter, graffiti and overgrown vegetation
(Springfield) - New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner James S. Simpson today announced “Clean Up NJ”, a campaign that periodically will concentrate NJDOT maintenance forces to make noticeable improvements in the appearance of New Jersey roadways.
Standing with state and local officials at I-78 Exit 49B in Springfield, where several NJDOT crews were cutting back overgrown foliage, Commissioner Simpson said the campaign has been designed to improve safety and spruce up the appearance of major commuter routes and other roadways.
“Attractive, well-maintained roadways send a signal that New Jersey is serious about attracting and retaining businesses and jobs,” Simpson said. “We have heard from residents, business executives and elected officials who want to see an improvement in the appearance of our roadways, and this campaign is designed to answer those calls.”
The campaign will use existing staff and resources assigned to North, Central and South Jersey maintenance yards to accomplish the objectives at no additional cost to taxpayers. There are approximately 420 NJDOT maintenance workers statewide, divided into 62 crews.
Clean Up NJ is designed to solve multiple maintenance issues that would be too large for a single crew to handle in a limited time frame. It combines the flexibility to respond to suggestions and concerns of residents and elected officials while also creating the capability to aggressively target specific corridors.
“With this ongoing campaign, we will target specific locations and handle all maintenance issues in a single sweep,” Simpson said. “We’ll clean up litter, cover up graffiti, cut overgrown vegetation and do whatever it takes to produce a positive impact.”
NJDOT recently requested elected officials to identify areas they wish to see addressed during the campaign. The solicitation generated dozens of suggestions, many of which have already been handled in the past few weeks.
During the weeklong campaign kickoff in late July, maintenance crews in the northern part of the state focused efforts on sections of I-80 and Route 24. Central New Jersey crews selected numerous locations rather than a single corridor while crews in the southern part of the state focused on litter, graffiti and weeds along I-295, I-76, I-676 and other major corridors.
All together, crews picked up 170 tons of litter, painted over 30,660 square yards of graffiti, mowed 1,330 acres of tall grass and removed heavy brush and trees from 134 acres of land along state highways.
The next weeklong concentration of forces will take place this fall. The eastern portion of I-80 and the northern portion of I-287 have been tentatively scheduled for attention, while workers in the central region will concentrate on I-195. In the south, the campaign will revisit the high-traffic area of I-295, I-76 and I-676, as well as Routes 30, 130, 70 and 38 in the Camden area.
Clean Up NJ also will address longer-term maintenance issues such as repainting rusted railroad bridges over state highways. Some of the bridges have been orphaned by defunct railroad companies, and their maintenance now falls to NJDOT.
The department is responsible for about 100 railroad bridges and dedicates funding to repaint some of them each year.
Residents and motorists can help the campaign succeed by putting litter in its proper place. NJDOT crews picked up nine million pounds of litter and debris from state highways in 2009 at an enormous cost in hours that could have been spent on other important maintenance responsibilities, such as mowing, painting over graffiti and clearing debris from storm-water drains.
To report a roadway maintenance issue, motorists can call 1-800-POTHOLE or click on the Highway Maintenance Reporting button on the NJDOT homepage at www.nj.gov/transportation.
The New Jersey State Police are contributing toward the success of the campaign by stepping up litter law enforcement efforts, including enforcement of regulations involving the transport of municipal and bulk waste.
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority and the South Jersey Transportation Authority have numerous efforts underway to maintain their toll roads.
The Department of Corrections, which provides 12 crews of inmates to cut weeds along highways, provided three additional crews during last month’s weeklong cleanup blitz.