Church Street Circle road works in progress

Work began recently on the Church Street and Valley Road roundabout, after the pavement had fallen into disrepair for several years. (KATE ALBRIGHT / MONTCLAIR LOCAL)

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It was once a centerpiece of Montclair – and after years of neglect, work began on the unruly Church Street Circle.

The roundabout that encompasses Church Street and Valley Road is riddled with potholes, lacks performance control signage and crosswalks, and contains a defunct fountain that has not been in operation for eight years. At least the pavement work began last week.

In November 2019, city council approved the schematic designs developed by Arterial and to be provided to the New Jersey Department of Transportation in order to apply for public funding for the project.

Recently, the project suffered a setback due to a material shortage and significant cost overruns, so Montclair looked to source new materials to both cut costs and speed things up, the adviser Peter Yacobellis.

Nationally, prices for goods used in construction jumped 3.5% from February to March and 12.9% since March 2020, Associated General Contractors said in an April press release. The monthly and annual increases were the highest recorded in 35 years, AGA said.

After posting an offer, Montclair was able to secure a construction contract with Vektor Corporation in the amount of $ 547,234, of which $ 333,430 will be covered by a municipal aid grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation, the director said. Township Communications, Katya Wowk.

The contract covers curb replacement, the creation of elevated mountable traffic separator islands and ADA curb ramps, signage and striping, and asphalt repaving, Wowk said.

“Some of my colleagues and I have raised concerns in an attempt to make sure the lanes and signage are clear for both drivers and non-drivers as things are pretty unruly as they are,” Yacobellis said.

LCOR real estate developers have donated $ 40,000 to improve the design of the roundabout, as part of the site plan approval for the construction of the Valley & Bloom apartments.

Plans for the fountain are still pending. It is currently being designed by an outside architectural firm, Wowk said.

The fountain was built in 1976 to commemorate the nation’s bicentennial. Design plans presented in the past by Arterial included those where the spout is also a work of art, or where the fountain would be replaced by a classical sculpture or a work of modern art.

The budget to build the fountain was $ 150,000 in 2019. But at the time then councilor Sean Spiller, now mayor, said the cost could reach $ 250,000 if council chooses a more elaborate design.

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