I know I’ve written previously about how I helped overhaul road paving in Westfield. I decided to write again about this topic because it’s a great example of the kind of proactive leadership I bring to the Council as I work with Mayor Brindle and my Westfield Together Council-and-running mates on behalf of Ward 3 residents.
The primary reason I ran for Council four years ago was my concern about the conditions of Westfield’s roads. Grove Street is a great example. I live around the corner from Grove. It troubled me that, like many other streets in town, it remained in poor condition while other roads in much better shape were being paved.
When I took over as Chair of the Public Works Committee, it became clear why. To determine its paving program, the town was using anecdotal input from employees as well as suggestions from Council members. And residents could also petition the Council to have their streets paved, a process with too much opportunity for political influence.
I also learned why so many roads resembled lumpy, patchworks of new, old, and really old asphalt. Utilities doing street openings for necessary work only did patchwork street repairs. As many of you know, these patches quickly crack, potholes ensue, more patches are added and the next thing you know, your street is an uneven, bumpy mess.
I immediately set about working with my fellow Westfield Together Council colleagues, especially Code Committee chair and Ward 4 Councilwoman Dawn Mackey, to establish and implement an entirely new approach to road paving. This included the following steps:
- Implement an analytical approach to paving decisions. The town hired a third-party engineering firm to assess every road in Westfield so the town could objectively build paving plans on a "worst-to-first" basis. The results of this assessment are on the town website at https://www.westfieldnj.gov/454/Road-Assessment-Program
- Better protect our roads with new road opening ordinances that require utilities that open up roads to repave them "curb-to-curb" for 50 feet in either direction of the opening.
- Significantly increase annual investment in road paving.
- Partner with utilities to coordinate their infrastructure upgrade plans for Westfield with the town so we can develop more efficient paving plans covering entire neighborhoods
The net results of this road paving overhaul represent a significant achievement. From 2018-2021, the town tripled road paving compared to the prior four years. A total of 47 miles of roads -- nearly half of the roads in town -- were paved. And because of the new ordinances, half of these roads were paved by utilities at no cost to taxpayers, saving the town and taxpayers millions of dollars -- a huge win/win for residents. And for the first time in town history, the town has published a three-year paving plan based on the analytical road assessment so residents know where their streets are in the paving schedule.
This is a great example of the kind of proactive leadership I bring to the Council: Gaining a full understanding of an issue and then working closely with town officials and Council colleagues to identify the right short- and long-term solutions that deliver real results. I'm asking for your support on Nov. 2 so I can continue doing this for the next four years!
Thanks. Let me know if you’d like to discuss further.
David Contract, Ward 3 Councilman