U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, and Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. (N.J.-10), today applauded the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to prioritize efforts to mitigate flooding along the Rahway River Basin, which flows through Union, Essex and Middlesex Counties. The federal government has committed $1,000,000 towards the completion of a key study needed to finish the project; $500,000 in immediate Army Corps funds and another $500,000 in the President’s FY16 budget.
“This critically needed funding will help us complete the necessary studies and work on implementation that will lead to channel improvements, dry flood proofing, wet flood proofing, and other flood mitigation measures,” said Sen. Menendez. “Flooding along the river has damaged houses, businesses, roads and municipal facilities. Now, after 17 years of fighting for funding, we have a chance to take the next the step to protect the area and restore the River Basin.”
“For years, communities along the Rahway River have endured high waters and flooding as a result of hurricanes and rain events,” Sen. Booker said. The devastation from storms like Irene has been too great to ignore. I am grateful that the Army Corps has committed to funding the next phase in addressing this problem, and grateful to the Mayors in the Rahway River Basin who have steadfastly advocated on their communities’ behalf.”
“The Rahway River is the source of drinking water for the 26,500 people living in the City of Rahway and the home to 700 species of plants and animals. Hurricane Irene caused a great amount of damage to many towns along the Rahway River. The completion of the Rahway River Basin Feasibility Study will ensure that our local constituents, homes, businesses, and infrastructures are less vulnerable to future flooding damage and costs while protecting the local environment,” said Rep. Payne, Jr.
Communities in the 82-square-mile Rahway River Basin have suffered numerous severe, widespread flooding on numerous occasions in the recent decades, including during Tropical Storm Floyd and Hurricane Irene, displacing residents and causing millions in property damage.
The N.Y. District Army Corps, N.J. Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and the local communities have been working to complete a feasibility study to identify various flood risk management alternatives for communities along the Rahway River Basin with a focus on Cranford and Rahway, but federal funding was abruptly cut off in FY14.
"I thank Senator Menendez, Senator Booker, Congressman Payne, and Congressman Lance for their leadership in making this project a priority for the Army Corps", said State Sen. Raymond Lesniak. "This funding, along with the President's proposal of an additional $500,000 next year, will get us moving to real solutions that will protect residents and their homes."
Last year, Sen. Menendez met with members of the Mayors' Council Rahway River Watershed Flood Control in his Washington, D.C. office to discuss the need for long-term flood mitigation. Sen. Menendez then led a bipartisan delegation letter to the Army Corps in December, along with Sen. Booker and Reps. Payne and Leonard Lance (N.J.-07), requesting the necessary funding to advance those efforts.
“The Mayors’ Council is grateful to Senators Menendez and Booker and Reps Lance and Payne for their strong support of this project and their unwavering persistence in getting this project back into the Corps of Engineers’ budget,” said the group’s cofounder, Dan Aschenbach, a former Cranford mayor. “Thanks to their help we are closer than ever to making this project a reality.”
The Rahway River watershed is one the Garden State’s oldest urbanized areas, featuring woodlands and wetlands that support over 700 species of plants and animals, some 5,000 acres of county parklands and the source of drinking water for the City of Rahway. It runs through 24 municipalities including Carteret, Clark, Cranford, Edison, Fanwood, Garwood, Kenilworth, Linden, Maplewood, Metuchen, Millburn, Mountainside, Orange, Plainfield, Rahway, Scotch Plains, Springfield, South Orange, Westfield, West Orange, Winfield Park, Woodbridge, Union and Summit.
“The Freeholder Board has worked very hard for many years with our mayors to address the flooding problem on a local level, but with the increasing number of significant floods it is clearly evident that a stronger regional approach is needed,” said Union County Freeholder Vice Chairman Bruce H. Bergen. “I would like to thank Senator Menendez for his leadership in bringing these additional federal funds to the effort, and for providing the prospect of a more secure, stable future to Union County and the affected communities.”
Among the region’s public officials joining Sen. Menendez in Union for today’s announcement was: Lesniak, Assemblywoman Annette Quijano; Bergen; Union Twp. Mayor Manuel Figueiredo; Cranford Mayor Andis Kalnins; Kenilworth Mayor Fred Pugliese; Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren; Rahway Mayor Samson Steinman; and Springfield Mayor David Barnett.