State lays out repaving plans for Route 70

Posted: January 24, 2013

Every night, as she goes to bed, Diana Gorko slips in a pair of earplugs, trying to muffle the sound of trucks hitting bumps along Route 70 in Cherry Hill - outside her professionally soundproofed windows.

"It scares the hell out of you in the middle of the night, and it's all night long," said Gorko, who has lived across from the Locustwood cemetery for 14 years.

She was among residents who came to an informational meeting Tuesday night to learn about the state's plan to rebuild the heavily traveled route, creating a smoother - and quieter - roadway.

The project, in the design phase, would repave the 7.7-mile stretch of Route 70 from Route 38 in Pennsauken to Cropwell Road in Evesham.

Portions of the road would be remade as part of the project, which is estimated to cost $20 million and slated for construction in late 2015 or early 2016.

"This is going to be a major undertaking, where we're going to be taking out the old concrete and rebuilding the roadway from the bottom up," said Tim Greeley, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

For years, the state has been hearing from local officials about the condition of the road. Route 70 was identified in 2010 as in significant need of resurfacing, Greeley said.

Motorists, too, have been reporting potholes: In 2011, state crews repaired 720 along the stretch, Greeley said.

"Everyone driving through this stretch of Route 70 is acutely aware some kind of fix is needed," he said.

Just repaving won't do, Greeley said. Built in the 1930s, Route 70 was made of concrete slabs, with joints 50 to 80 feet apart.

As those joints deteriorated, the state filled in the gaps and overlaid the roadway with asphalt, work that predated the 1990s, Greeley said.

Composite surfaces are susceptible to cracking, Greeley said.

Over the years, he said, Route 70 has split along the joints, while the asphalt used to fill the gaps has swelled in hot weather.

The state's proposal doesn't involve adding lanes, he said.

It does, however, call for more pedestrian-friendly features, including additional sidewalks, crosswalks, and push buttons.

Those features were incorporated in part to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, Greeley said.

The project, prioritized through an internal system, has taken time to develop because of design and environmental permitting requirements, he said.

He said he did not know how long the project would take to complete. In the community center at the Cherry Hill township hall, where poster boards were on display Tuesday evening mapping the locations of the proposed changes, a representative told one resident that construction could last 12 to 18 months.

Cherry Hill business administrator Lenore Rosner said, "Our goal is to make sure this is completed as quickly as possible."

Calling Route 70 a wreck, Jarrett Taylor of the Kingston Estates neighborhood said he was "totally behind getting all of this repaved."

Some did have one worry - that the roadway would be widened.

"That's our main concern," said Susanne Bromke of the Erlton South Civic Association.

She cited the recent deaths of two pedestrians struck in separate incidents while crossing Route 70 in the area, suggesting a widened highway would be even more risky for pedestrians.

Told that the number of lanes would not change, "then great," Bromke said. "It does desperately need to be repaved."


Contact Maddie Hanna at 856-779-3232 or mhanna@phillynews.com.

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