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CBS 2 Exclusive: Confrontation Turns To Promise Of Repaving Palisades Parkway

NEW JERSEY (CBSNewYork) — CBS 2’s exclusive Mobile 2 unit has been driving on the New Jersey side of the Palisades Parkway for months, hitting pothole after pothole.

There’s a stretch of the roadway that is so bad, it totaled a woman’s car.

Now, as CBS 2’s Don Champion reported exclusively on Saturday, complaints are becoming action after CBS 2 confronted the state’s top transportation official, who admitted the roadway is an embarrassment.

“I’ve made the command decision that we are going to repave the Palisade Interstate Parkway, both sides north and south, all 11 and a half miles,” said New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner James Simpson.

The decision comes following a confrontation Simpson had with CBS 2’s Steve Langford at a meeting in Staten Island earlier this week.

Simpson had said the state didn’t have the budget for the project claiming it wasn’t on a priority list.

So what changed literally overnight?

A first hand experience in the driver’s seat and behind the wheel, Champion reported.

“It was worse than some Third World countries that I’ve been to that I shall not name. I could not believe that there was a highway in New Jersey that was as bad as it was,” Simpson admitted.

Simpson said Langford’s questions made him wonder.

“It dawned on me that maybe I should take a look at it even though the Department of Transportation doesn’t own it. The speed limit was 50 and I could only go 30,” Simpson said.

The Palisades Interstate Park Commission is responsible for the parkway’s upkeep.

Commission officials have long contended it’s up to the state to repave it. In fact, the last time it was repaved in 1996, the state footed the bill.

After making his promise, Champion asked Simpson if the delay was a case of government bureaucracy at its best.

“Admittedly no one called me directly. I understand folks may have called my deputy or someone else but no one ever called me,” Simpson said.

“We can’t pave it tomorrow. We’ve got to design it and then we’ve gotta put it out to bid,” the commissioner added.

Simpson said he’ll start the behind the scenes work of getting the parkway repaved on Monday. That process could take a few months to complete.

The cost could be up to $20 million and CBS 2 was told the money would be coming from a fund used to repair state-owned roadways.

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