RAHWAY, NJ — The City Council voted at its Aug. 12 meeting to introduce a $500,000 bond to finance emergency repairs to the sinkholes that recently have appeared on several streets throughout the municipality.
Sinkholes have developed on several roads, including Elm, Seminary and West Inman avenues. While the city does not keep a record of extreme weather, these sinkholes only caused damage to roads and not to private property.
“Some of the repairs were done on an emergency basis,” Acting Business Administrator Robert Landolfi said at the meeting. “When it gets to the point where it rises to the street, you have to fix it.”
Aging infrastructure was pointed to as the main culprit for the caving ground by Jacqueline Foushee, the city’s engineer and director of community development.
“The sinkholes in Rahway are due to the age of the pipes and the proximity to other works and proximity to other pipes, and it can’t take that much pressure or load nearby,” she said.
“The $500,000 is only the amount of the bond, and to plan in advance to prevent emergencies. That pays for the emergency sinkholes repairs. I’ll use it to pay for emergencies as they occur,” Foushee added.
Landolfi said in a recent interview with LocalSource that recent heavy storms have also contributed to the issue.
“What we are experiencing are collapses in some of our streets, a little more than usual, and it is weather related,” he said. “It’s usually the volume of water in the mains is higher than it usually is, and that has caused some erosion.”
Residents expressed additional environmentally-related concerns at the meeting.
One pointed out the buildup of sediment and tree branches on a creek behind his home after heavy thunderstorms in July and August.
Another had concerns about the methods of garbage collection outside his condominium, saying the city’s methods are inefficient and unsanitary.
According to resident Daniel Gagnon, a water drainage channel that flows behind his house on Lenz Court, built between 1929 and the 1950s, has not been maintained since then. He said he became increasingly concerned when severe thunderstorms occurred in the last few weeks, because private residents are not prepared to handle the rising creek level on their own.
“I moved into my home in 2015,” he continued. “Occasionally, the creek water is above normal levels. Nothing could prepare me for what happened on July 2 and Aug. 8. On these two days, thunderstorms caused water levels to rise like I had never seen before. I looked into the creek, all I could see was trash, debris … as well as tree branches.”
Since natural waterways are governed by state statute, Foushee said in a recent interview with LocalSource that she wasn’t sure who was responsible.
“That’s not a DEP issue, not at this juncture,” she said. “We still need to determine if the DEP should be involved at all.”
Resident Andrew Garcia Phillips, who serves as president of his condominium board, spoke up at the meeting regarding garbage pickup outside his condo.
“This week, I got to meet with the city’s lawyer, and he reiterated the position that the city provides the same services to us as it provides to single-family houses, which is curbside pickup,” Phillips said. “They suggest that we can bring trash cans and line them out in the street, to be picked up the same way that a single family house is. Of course, we feel that this is an unreasonable solution. It would be unsightly, unsanitary and very inefficient for us to do it this way.”
He argued that the simple solution to this problem is to replace the several trash cans with a large trash bin. “It’
the cleanest and most efficient way to pick up trash in this city. That’s all we’re asking for.”