Senate action furthers Rahway River flood control initiative

CRANFORD, NJ — The Mayors Council on Rahway River Watershed Flood Control reported in a recent press release that on Sept. 15 the U.S. Senate passed by a 96-4 vote the Federal Water Resources Development Act, which includes a directive to the secretary to expedite the final review and provide pre-construction and engineering funds for the construction of the Rahway River flood mitigation plan. Known as Alternative 4a, the plan is a revision of one of the 10 alternatives that the U.S. Army Corps and the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection have been evaluating since the major damages from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 caused more than $100 million of property damages.

Alternative 4a includes modification to the Orange Reservoir and downstream channel improvements through Cranford and lift or acquisition of numerous properties in Rahway. The plan had the strongest benefit-cost ratio required to be attained as part of the federal process.

The Senate action came after N.J. senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker successfully amended the original legislation to incorporate the provision making the Rahway River projects a priority. U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance was also successful in having an amendment incorporated in the House bill. The final passage and president’s approval is expected to take place in December.

The Mayors Council on Rahway River Watershed Flood Control expressed appreciation for making the plan a priority.

“We appreciate the efforts of our federal legislators working on our behalf,” Cranford Mayor Andis Kalnins said in the release.

The Mayors Council includes Kalnins, Union Mayor Manuel Figueiredo, former Millburn Mayor Robert Tillotson, Millburn Mayor Ted Bourke, Rahway Mayor Sam Steinman, Springfield Mayor Jerry Fernandez, Maplewood Mayor Victor DeLuca and Kenilworth Mayor Anthony DeLuca.