Legislature Sends Gordon, Pou, Wagner, Eustace & Vainieri Huttle Flooding Solution Bill to Governor’s Desk

Measure Would Appropriate $10 Million to Provide Long-Term Fix to Marsellus Street Bridge to Help Garfield & Surrounding Bergen County Area

The legislature granted final approval on Monday to legislation sponsored by Senators Bob Gordon and Nellie Pou and Assembly members Connie Wagner, Tim Eustace and Valerie Vainieri Huttle that would provide a long-term solution to flooding problems that have plagued Bergen County.

“Without this funding, too many homeowners will continue to find themselves forced to repeat the same cycle of flooding, evacuation and property destruction,” said Gordon (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Unless the state steps in to help make necessary repairs, these fixes will have to be shouldered entirely by property taxpayers.”

“For residents of Garfield, this project will finally bring real peace of mind that a sudden downpour won’t turn into sudden flooding,” said Sen. Nellie Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic. “We will be able to correct a major impediment to getting the Passaic River through southern Bergen County without leaving its banks, and countless homes, businesses and families will be protected. With the major thunderstorms of the past couple weeks and the hurricane season just begun, we can’t get this done soon enough.”

The bill (S-257) would appropriate $10 million from the General Fund to the Department of Transportation to fund the state’s contribution towards improvements, including but not limited to, the resolution of flooding issues around the Marsellus Street Bridge, located at the origin of Saddle River Avenue in the city of Garfield.

“There is only so much flooding any one community can handle. It’s time to look at the bigger picture and address the problem head-on instead of applying a band-aid approach that will cost more money over time,” said Wagner (D-Bergen/Passaic). “The issues surrounding this bridge have been studied extensively at the local level and it’s time the state worked collaboratively to help fund the solution.”

“The flooding around this bridge has been a constant source of headaches for area residents for far too long now,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic. “If we can step in and provide a solution that will eliminate these concerns and save countless clean-up dollars in the long-run, we should.”

This legislation is intended to provide relief to residents of Bergen County who are subject to flooding and associated issues due to debris that becomes trapped at the Marsellus Street Bridge, which is owned by Bergen County. The county may identify and execute the most appropriate solution to address the flooding issues near the bridge.

“As a former Freeholder, I know the flooding nightmare this bridge has created for Garfield and surrounding area residents,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “I also know how difficult it has been to address the situation from a long-term perspective without substantial funding. Hopefully this measure will provide residents and business owners with relief, once and for all, from the damaging effects of flooding in our region.”

Local officials have pointed out that the main reason Garfield, Lodi, Saddle Brook, South Hackensack and Rochelle Park become flooded is due to the concrete impediments and iron girders under the bridge which collect debris during heavy rainfalls and form a natural dam that causes water to overflow and flood the surrounding areas.

The sponsors noted that new technologies available can support the bridge without the concrete walls, which local officials believe would help alleviate roughly 80 percent of the flooding that occurs.

The measure was approved 27-9 by the Senate and 42-30-6 by the Assembly on Monday and now heads to the Governor’s desk.