UNION COUNTY, NJ — Two meetings were held this month by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to gather input from the public regarding the Rahway River flood mitigation plan on Wednesday, Jan. 11, and Thursday, Jan. 12, in Cranford and Rahway.
At the meetings, the public commented on plans to address the flood problems in the Rahway River Basin and potential impacts on the environment. A study to help alleviate flooding began in 2012 and in recent years made proposals calling for improvements in Cranford and modifications to the Orange Reservoir dam spillway in West Orange. Towns along the west branch of the Rahway River, such as Cranford and Rahway, have seen severe flooding from the river following events like Tropical Storm Irene and Superstorm Sandy.
Public concerns are being accepted until Feb. 23. The Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and EIS, and instructions for submitting written and email comments are available at www.nan.usace.army.mil/Rahway.
“We are more than halfway through the duration of the study,” Project Manager Rifat Salim of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told LocalSource over the phone. “Once we address the public’s comments, we will enter the optimization stage, where we optimize the plan and maximize benefits and decrease cost.”
Union County representatives including Chairman Bruce Bergen attended one of the public hearing meetings held in Cranford.
“We completed a draft report and constructed a plan,” Salim said. “We will now be gathering comments from the public and addressing their concerns until Feb. 23. The final plan is expected some time this year.”
Residents were explained the details of the plan at the meeting, followed by a question-and-answer portion where they could address their concerns.
“The plan consists of 30 inches of pipes at the spillway at Orange Reservoir,” Salim said. “There will also be channel improvements in Cranford. There will be 8,930 feet of trapezoid channel improvement from the Woodbridge area in Nomahegan Park to South Avenue East in Cranford. The channel’s appearance will be improved.”
Once the plan is authorized, it will enter the design phase and construction will take place.
“External peer reviews are taking place at the moment,” Salim said. “Everyone is looking at it. After that, we will refine the plan and enter the optimization phase. The information will be given to the Chief Support Congress who will authorize the project. If it’s authorized, we will enter the design phase and construction will begin. For the study, 50 percent of the funding is federal and the other half is funded by our partner, the N.J.
Department of Environmental Protection. For the construction, 65 percent of the funding will be federal and the other 35 percent will most likely be funded by the NJDEP, but it hasn’t been authorized yet.”
Residents have concerns about the project regarding the construction as well as the environment. Environmental groups attended the meetings to express their concerns about the effects on vegetation. Technical engineering questions were also fielded.
“We had two meetings so that more people could attend,” Salim said. “We want to hear from residents to address any concerns or questions they might have. The meetings consisted of a detailed presentation, poster board of the channel plan and a question-and-answer session.”
Union County members of the Mayors Council Rahway River Watershed Flood Control, Andis Kalnins, former mayor of Cranford; former mayor of Union Miguel Figueiredo; Kenilworth Mayor Anthony DeLuca; Jerry Fernandez, former mayor of Springfield; and Rahway Mayor Samson Steinman were unavailable for comment prior to press time when contacted by LocalSource.