Re: Polatcong and Lopatcong Town Council endorsement of P’burg’s proposed truck routes.
January 3, 2023
From Michael King, Chairman
Phillipsburg Riverview Organization
PO Box 291, Phillipsburg, NJ 08865
Charles R Reilly
Supervisor Traffic Investigation
NJ Department of Transportation
Re: Phillipsburg Designated Truck Route
Town of Phillipsburg
Dear Mr. Reilly,
Phillipsburg, and the towns near Route 22, in southern Warren County, are reeling from too many trucks. The prospect of new roads having truck weight limits lifted -such as on the steep slopes of Center Street- is causing additional concern.
Currently, existing Phillipsburg warehouses are primarily at Bridge Point on Route 22. But a developer wants a zoning change to allow a mammoth warehouse facility downtown, between an overburdened neighborhood and the parkland along the Delaware River, with no direct high access and several miles from the Route 22
It’s this proposal, which has made managing the trucks ever more pressing. As a last official act at the end of 2021, before leaving office, Town Council members - some of whom had voted to approve the zoning change downtown to allow the mammoth warehouse, voted to fund the truck route study.
Mr Timothy O’Brien, Phillipsburg’s Project Associate/Manager Engineer wrote you January 3, 2022, about the Phillipsburg Designated Truck Route. By coincidence, I’m writing to you exactly one year later on January 3rd, 2022.
I notice that towards the end of his letter is the section called “Outside Agency Approval”, which name Lopatcong and Pohatcong Townships.
Directly relevant to Lopatcong Township is Center Street, since it empties in Lopatcong.
It seems that Lopatcong Council has not been transparent. I’ve heard from citizens of Lopatcong that they attended a town council meeting in which they spoke against the Phillipsburg truck route proposal and the proposal was voted down.
Subsequently, these residents saw a news story reporting that Lopatcong had endorsed Phillipsburg’s truck route proposal. We are left to assume a vote was held in executive session.
As regards Pohatcong, it seems relevant that the State legislature was considering legislation, that among other things, would give impacted towns a say in warehouses, in a neighboring town. I mention this because in the proposed mammoth warehouse in downtown Phillipsburg, all east bound Route 78 traffic will pass through Pohatcong. (West bound trucks would presumably take steep Center Street)
But since under current law, Pohatcong doesn’t get any say, the only part of this truck route plan Pohatcong endorsed by resolution is eliminating Lock Street, as a truck route.
Michael King, Chairman
Phillipsburg Riverview Org
This letter to P’burg mayor appeared in Lehigh Valley Live
Mike King is the leader of the Phillipsburg Riverview Organization
Begin forwarded message:
From: Mike King <email@example.com>
Date: November 7, 2022, at 13:59:27 EST
To: Todd Tersigni <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Howard Street train impact Union Square
Hello Mayor Todd
Are you aware that any train departing Howard Street onto the Bel Del line would cross Union Square to access the Conrail line, and then once on the Conrail line, cross Union Square again?
Same thing in reverse to access the Howard Street site: Once across Union Square on the Conrail line and then once on the Bel Del line, cross Union Square again
Each train will cross Union Square four times! What a mess it will be
I’m hoping that you can veto the zoning change on Howard Street like you did last December
Any questions? Call
OVERBURDENED DOWNTOWN PHILLIPSBURG
The New Jersey Department of environmental protection has designated downtown Phillipsburg as an overburdened community. This means the area has environmental justice degradation, such as air and noise pollution that is already of health concern.
A mammoth warehouse on Howard Street would surely make such problems worse for an older and sicker population and truck traffic will create unsafe conditions in the neighborhood, for the kids.
Adjacent to a highway is criteria number one for such a facility, but the one approved on Howard Street will send trucks onto main streets and through neighborhoods in town
Re: Letter to Pohatcong governing body about Pburg proposed truck routes
To: Pohatcong Mayor and Council
From Michael King, Phillipsburg Riverview Organization, Chairperson
Dear Mayor Slack and Council persons:
As per Phillipsburg’s NJDOT truck route application, S Main Street from Mc Keen St north to Union Square and the bridge to Easton will be truck weight limited, except for local deliveries.
Once approved by the NJDOT, all trucks -from the 360,000 square foot cold storage facility on Howard Street, behind St Phillip and James church, between S Main and the Delaware River - will proceed south on S Main towards Pohatcong , with one detour only - Center Street, via Abbot Street, at S Main Street. As you know, per Pohatcong resolution, Lock Street will be weight restricted and so not usable as a bypass for trucks.
Now mind you, Center Street is mostly a residential area and is on a steep slope. The struggle of trucks going up the incline will be disruptive to the quality of life and the braking of the trucks going down the incline will be dangerous to inhabitants. This truck route designation, of Center Street, shows us the extreme to which a majority of P’burg town council is willing to go to accommodate this developer’s plans.
Most likely, tractor-trailers that plan to head west on Route 22 will take Center Street, while eastbound tractor-trailers will head to New Brunswick Avenue.
And the reverse traffic flow is probably true too: Traffic heading west to the Howard Street cold storage facility will enter via New Brunswick Ave, while those heading east will enter via Center Street.
More than a year passed, and a group of Pburg citizens and Downtown businesses filed a court case against the zoning change that would allow a 510,000 sq. ft. industrial warehouse. The judge heard our case and his comments assured us of a favorable decision, yet the pandemic is blamed for the month's delay in releasing the verdict.
Very recently, Phillipsburg Councilman Kennedy - elected specifically on his promise to not vote for the zoning change - changed his vote to support the zoning change that would allow the Howard Street facility. His vote and the mayor’s signature have made our legal case moot.
There’s been lots of suggestions that the facility will access the Conrail rail line, by switching from the Bel Del line and then in reverse, for a total of four train crossings of Union Square, per train. There’s also substantial doubt about the needed railroad infrastructure and therefore the feasibility of this plan.
It’s possible that a new lawsuit could be brought against the latest zoning change, and approval by the council, but this sudden switch, of the councilman, has left us with $7,000 of legal bills, for the original case and no obvious way to pay it. Details about that case can be seen at: Phillipsburg.nowarehouse.org
I send this email letter along to you on the outside chance that you don’t know some of the details that have led us to the precipice of having a mammoth warehouse on Howard Street, adjacent to downtown Phillipsburg, with probable impacts on S Main and New Brunswick Ave in Pohatcong.
Michael King, Chairperson
Phillipsburg Riverview Organization
To Pohatcong Mayor and Council re: Phillipsburg’s NJDOT truck route application
November 22, 2022