Thursday, August 01, 2013

Tide gate protecting Teterboro Airport (KTEB) and Moonachie to be replaced

MOONACHIE — After years of delay, a decaying tide gate designed to protect the borough's business district and Teterboro Airport from flooding will be replaced beginning this fall, state officials said Wednesday.

The $1.1 million overhaul of the West Riser Tide Gates along Berry's Creek will allow water from heavy rains and tides to flow into marshlands rather than parking lots and runways.

Although the project was being designed as early as 2006, it had been on hold until recently, when contaminated sediment was dredged from Berry's Creek, a Superfund site that had some of the highest levels of mercury of any freshwater system in the United States.

The project was approved last week by the state Meadowlands Commission, which has repaired several damaged tide gates in recent years. Work on the new tide gate is expected to be completed in early 2014, commission officials said Wednesday.

The project would have been much more expensive had work been done before the environmental cleanup, said Thomas Marturano, the commission's director of solid waste and natural resources.

"Workers would have had to go through special training," he said Wednesday. "They would have to go through decontamination every day."

Because Teterboro Airport is a prime beneficiary of a working tide gate, its owner, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is contributing $552,000 to the project.

The new tide gate "will help protect the homes and businesses of South Bergen while also protecting Teterboro Airport," Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni said Wednesday.

The West Riser is among almost three dozen tide gates built decades ago, mostly by private businesses in the Meadowlands, to keep floodwaters out of their properties. Many have decayed over the years through neglect.

A 2006 study by the Meadowlands Commission showed that only 19 of the 34 tide gates were functioning. Instead of spending the estimated $35 million to fix all the gates, the commission has instead fixed some of the most important gates that were in the worst condition over the past several years.

A fully functioning West Riser would not likely have made much of a difference during Superstorm Sandy. The tide gate is almost 4 feet high, but the wall of water that inundated the Meadowlands and caused heavy damage in Little Ferry and Moonachie reached 8.6 feet high, according to data from the Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute.

The contract was awarded to Creamer Sanzari Joint Venture of Hackensack after it submitted the lowest bid of eight contractors.

It calls for the installation of a new foundation to hold four new tide gates, a trash rack and a catwalk for maintenance and inspection access. Bergen County has agreed to maintain the new tide gate in perpetuity.