Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Clifton Clears a Path

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Clifton Clears a Path

Article excerpt

CLIFTON -- After days of commuters climbing over snow mounds as high as 3 feet to get on and off buses because no one had cleaned the stops, city public works crews were dispatched on Wednesday to clear away the hazardous piles.

But city officials still maintained that it was the state's job, not the city's, to keep the bus stops that line Route 3 clear of hard-packed snow for passengers' safety.

Meanwhile, state roadway and transit officials steadfastly denied the bus stop snow cleanup was their responsibility, even as Clifton's mayor and city manager pointed out the stops are along state highways and are covered with snow that state plows push off.

It's a disagreement that divides mayors in towns served by bus stops along state highways. The mayors of Paramus and Englewood said their public works employees clean all bus stops, while Fair Lawn's mayor agreed with Clifton that the state was responsible on state roads.

By the time commuters arrived home on Wednesday, Clifton City Manager Matthew Watkins said, Clifton public works crews had cleared the stops -- with the protection of city police, who were paid overtime, he said.

"To me, it's crazy, but that had to be done," he said.

For most bus stops, the property owner closest to the sidewalk is responsible for clearing snow. But the Route 3 stops are located along empty lots on elevated medians separating the exit and entrance ramps off the highway. "I guess we would call them an orphan sidewalk," Mayor James Anzaldi said.

Clifton doesn't own the lots, Anzaldi and Watkins said, but it wasn't clear on Wednesday if they belonged to the state.

NJ Transit only cleans property that belongs to the agency, said Will Smith, a spokesman, adding that the stops along Route 3 aren't owned by NJ Transit.

Who should clean the stops is a question that splits opinion among mayors whose towns lie along state highway bus routes.

Paramus Mayor Richard LaBarbiera said it was up to municipalities to clear bus shelters installed by NJ Transit. …

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