Motorists, rejoice: Rutgers Street is finally being repaved!

If you’ve driven on Rutgers Street in Belleville, heading to the Rutgers Street Bridge especially, anytime in, oh, let’s say, the last three years, you know that just as you approach the bridge, there are potholes so bad and so brutal that it’s a minor miracle if you get past the location without your vehicle’s entire undercarriage collapsing.

You know what we’re talking about.

But there’s good news, great news actually — it’s going to be repaved soon there thanks to Essex County taking on the responsibility of doing so, even though it’s actually the state that should be doing the work.

Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. and Belleville Mayor Michael Melham made the announcement jointly last week at the Rutgers/Main Street intersection.

Part of the project includes repaving the intersection of Rutgers Street and Main Street, which is a state road. The work is scheduled to start the first week of August and will last about a week.

“An ongoing initiative of my administration has been to modernize our infrastructure so it meets the needs of our community and enhances the safety for motorists and pedestrians. We were going to repave the county-owned section of Rutgers Street this year and decided to include the intersection because of the concerns that NJ State Sen. Teresa Ruiz and Belleville Mayor Michael Melham were sharing with my office,” DiVincenzo said.

“We have been sharing our concerns about Rutgers Street with the state for several months and we are very happy that the county is taking action. We are very happy that Essex County is standing behind Belleville in this matter,” Melham said.

“It has been at least a year since the community has been calling my senate office about the condition of the intersection. Regardless of who is overhauling our infrastructure, we have to make sure we are ensuring our responsibility to provide safe streets,” Ruiz said.

The news was sweet music to the ears of several motorists who were happy share their views on that intersection.

Karen Lamb, of Belleville, says she commutes daily to Jersey City via Rutgers Street / Route 7. She can’t remember how long it’s been that the street wasn’t a complete and utter mess.

“It’s really being fixed?” Lamb said. “I cannot believe it. It’s about time. Do you know I got a flat because I couldn’t get far enough away from that joke? I am so happy to hear they’re doing the work. It can’t get here fast enough. It’s good to know the county cares because clearly, the state doesn’t.”

Raul DiPietro concurs.

“That has been a mess forever,” the Jersey City resident said. “I don’t know how they let it stay that bad for that long. I’ve seen cars pulled over there with flat tires a lot of times. The state should have to reimburse every single person whose car was damaged because they waited so damn long to fix it. It’s a complete disgrace — but I’m just glad it’s finally getting done.

“Got to give credit to the county exec and the mayor for getting it done.”

Meanwhile, in addition to Rutgers Street, Union Street from Belleville Avenue to the Newark City line and Mill Street from Union Avenue to Bridge Street and Washington Avenue to Main Street will be repaved. John F. Kennedy Parkway from Bay Avenue/Valentine Road to Baldwin Street in Bloomfield and River Road in Nutley from Park Avenue to the Belleville line also will be repaved.

A publicly bid contract for $1,192,930 to perform the construction work is on the July 10 agenda for the Board of Chosen Freeholders. It is being funded by a grant from the Community Development Block Grant program and through the Essex County Capital Budget.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.