It looks like all the pieces are rapidly coming together for the FedEx Freight distribution center project in North Arlington.
Last week, The Observer got a tour of the sprawling 44-acre project site on Porete Ave. in the borough’s redevelopment area, just off the Belleville Turnpike (Rt. 7).
The visit was arranged by Robert Ceberio, the borough’s redevelopment consultant, and his business development director (and former North Arlington Mayor) Len Kaiser, who provided an escort.
Slated to open next month, much of the 139,000 square foot FedEx distribution facility with 167 bay doors — occupying the old Bethlehem Steel property — looks to be close to completion, including a 23,000 square-foot truck maintenance/repair center, 10,000 square-foot office building and surface parking for up to 215 workers and visitors.
North and west of the site, the developer is installing a storm management system with runoff basins and some elevation of the land to raise it out of a flood plain.
Also pretty well laid out is a new two-way interior roadway system, part of which will serve as ingress/egress for the FedEx trucks and another that will permit other Porete Ave. businesses to enter and leave via the Pike.
That will be accomplished by construction — now underway — of a new signaled intersection facing NewRent trailor sales, rentals and repairs at 520 Belleville Turnpike.
Truck traffic currently going in and out of the borough’s industrial area relies on a tricky access point via Porete, just below Schuyler Ave., on a hill that makes for poor visibility and tough maneuvering in and out of often-heavy Pike traffic.
Under the new setup, Langan Engineering, representing the developer, and engineers for the state Department of Transportation, are reviewing two scenarios for traffic traveling eastbound on the Pike looking to turn into the site, Kaiser said.
One possibility, he said, would allow for left turns into the site via a jughandle extending across the Pike into part of the trailer business property; another calls for turns via a dedicated left-turn lane keyed to a timed traffic signal.
“Either way,” Kaiser said, “it will be a safe passage.”
Westbound traffic on the Pike will turn right to access the site, he said.
Outbound traffic exiting onto the Pike will be able to turn right or left, Kaiser said.
The cost of the intersection improvements – projected at $3 million – will be borne by the developer, Porete Development LLC and principal Moishe Mana, who is leasing the project site to FedEx.
Once the new intersection configuration is in place, according to Ceberio, use of the old Porete access road would be limited to “emergency purposes.”
Turns out, Ceberio said, the borough has never made that roadway a “dedicated street,” largely because it follows the right-of-way for a Jersey City water line that snakes through the meadows area, including part of what is now the FedEx property.
And now that the site is being redeveloped — with additional roadways and intersection improvements threatening to impinge on that line — Ceberio said engineers from the Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority – which controls the city’s potable water flow from Morris County reservoirs – insisted on protections for the now-vulnerable water line.
To that end, Ceberio said, part of the new intersection improvements includes a relocation and reinforcement of the line, plus construction of bridge decking, supported by 20- to 25-feet-deep wooden pilings, to rise over the water line to cushion the pipes from pounding of truck traffic and to prevent any possible breaks in the line.
All of this disruption will likely compel PSE&G to move at least five of their utility poles now aligned with the Pike, Ceberio said.
At full build-out, the project is expected to generate about 150 jobs with more to come later.
The FedEx project should be followed by more redevelopment activities in the Porete Ave. area, Ceberio said.
Clayton Block, a masonry manufacturer and a fixture on Porete, and Home Dynamix, a floor covering distributor and relative newcomer to the area, will stay in place, he said.