N.J. Statehouse Flooding Has Cost in Excess of $2 Million

By | August 1, 2006

Flood damage at the New jersey Statehouse parking garage that was built in a Delaware River flood plain has cost the state about $2 million since September 2004, according to state officials.

The 1,100-space garage in Trenton was opened in 1995 for $31 million alongside Route 29. The highway is only a few feet from the Delaware River.

It flooded in September 2004, April 2005 and last month when heavy rains drove the river across Route 29 and into the parking complex, which has underground parking levels.

Treasury spokesman Tom Vincz said the September 2004 flood cost $1.1 million and the 2005 flood cost $560,000.

Last month’s flood will cost an estimated $600,000, Vincz said, though he cautioned final costs haven’t been determined as workers continued to clean and repair flood damage.

Kathleen Crotty, chairwoman of the State Capitol Joint Management Commission, said the state can do nothing to keep flood waters out of the parking complex.

“There apparently is no engineering solution,” Crotty said.

But she said the commission, which oversees the Statehouse and its grounds, plans to initiate a study on whether electrical and mechanical equipment in a lower level room can be moved to a higher level to avoid flood waters.

“It wouldn’t stop flooding, but it would alleviate the inconvenience and expense associated with flooding,” Crotty said.

Vincz said the lower level equipment controls electricity, heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems for the garage, the Statehouse cafeteria and annex. He said workers have put wheels on some equipment so they can be moved when flooding is anticipated and relocated some circuits and electrical systems to higher levels.

The State Capitol Joint Management Commission didn’t exist when the garage was built, thus Crotty didn’t oversee construction. Still, she said the entire Statehouse complex is in a flood plain, along with much of the capital city. Also, she said the garage was built in the back of the complex near the river because there was no other place to put it.

“If you look at the property, it was probably the only available space,” Crotty said.

Plus, she said, when the garage was built, the location hadn’t been hit by heavy flooding, except for the famous 1955 flood prompted by two hurricanes that hit the area within days.

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