State transportation officials are pushing back on a call by freshman Republican Assemblymen Erik Simonsen (R-Lower Township) and Antwan McClellan (R-Ocean City) to delay roadwork on Route 47 in Cape May County until after President Donald Trump’s Keep America Great rally next week.
The Republicans had accused the Department of Transportation of timing the launch of emergency repairs to Trump’s appearance in Wildwood.
“We would hope – and our area expects – that there is no correlation between these two events,” Simonsen and McClellan said in a letter to Commissioner of Transportation Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti.
According to the DOT, a delay in the project would move the completion date beyond the start of Wildwood’s tourist season.
The DOT said their primary concern was the “safety of the residents who use this roadway every day, including many school buses.”
“This is necessary emergency work that was scheduled before the announcement of the President’s visit and unfortunately cannot wait,” the DOT said in a statement.
They also said that there are other ways to get to the Trump rally, which is designed to boost support for the re-election campaign of Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis).
The primary routes from the Philadelphia area or Millville to Wildwood would not utilize this portion of Route 47,” the transportation department claims. “Other major highways are the preferred route to Wildwood. To the extent a visitor is on Route 47, the detour route would extend their trip by only five minutes.”
Van Drew switched parties last month after refusing to support Trump’s impeachment and now has the president’s endorsement in a four-candidate Republican primary in New Jersey’s 2nd district.
The New Jersey Globe has learned that Gutierrez-Scaccetti reached out to local officials of both parties and they indicated a preference to start the project immediately to avoid delays during the tourist season.
“There are critical safety issues on Route 47/S Delsea Drive where it crosses Dias Creek due to numerous sinkholes that have compromised the roadway, including a three-foot sinkhole that developed this week,” the DOT statement said.. “There is a culvert consisting of two pipes that carry Dias Creek underneath Route 47. The pipes have cracked allowing water to erode the underlying soil supporting the pipes, causing an unstable condition making it unsafe to drive on this section of Route 47.”
The issue was first reported by SaveJersey.Simonsen McClellan