By Douglas E. Hall
Work crews that have spent the past two months taking steps to prevent the Palisades from dropping large rocks and boulders on to the roadway of Route 5 in Edgewater, are nearing the end of their work. Workmen in the past few days of June have been reinstalling the chain link fence along the affected portion of the highway, which had been removed while slurry and heavy netting were applied to the façade of the Palisades.
In this process we have lost much of the natural beauty of the Palisades, but we have gained, it is hoped, greater safety for those driving and walking along this stretch of the state highway. It is fortunate that the heavy stone that fell in the past did not hit anyone or any vehicles.
The $3.8 million project to stabilize loose rock on the Palisades covered a stretch of highway from the hairpin turn at the northern section of Undercliff Avenue to an area just short of the Fort Lee town line. This is the area of Route 5 that is bounded by steep cliffs on its western edge of the highway up to the top of the Palisades and Fort Lee.
Beginning on May 1, the State Department of Transportation’s (DOT) contractor, Merco Inc., closed and detoured traffic on Route 5 westbound Monday thru Friday, from 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., for the construction activities. Weekends were not affected.
Motorists headed for Route 5 westbound during these hours have been detoured to River Road (or the northern portion of Undercliff Avenue if they drove up Route 5 to the barricade) north to Bruce Reynolds Boulevard west in Fort Lee to Martha Washington Way south to Route 67 (Palisades Avenue) south to the convergence with Route 5.
All westbound large-truck traffic has been detoured since the start of construction and similar closures were necessary for all traffic along Route 5 westbound at the onset of construction in late-summer 2011. Route 5 eastbound traffic has been maintained. The westbound side of Route 5, leaving Edgewater until it reaches Fort Lee, is bordered by a steep rock cliff. The existing roadside rock outcrops consisted of loose rock that fell on to the roadway early in 2011, which prompted the DOT work. Because of the potential that more rock would drop on to the Route 5 mainline roadway, stabilization measures, including scaling of loose rock, installation of Shotcrete mortar, wire netting, and rock dowels and the removal of vegetation, were undertaken to help stabilize the rock slope and lessen the potential hazards of falling rock, according to the DOT.