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Saturday, May 25, 2024

INTERESTING FOLKS: Chris & Tara Mezzanotte of Knowlton to Serve as Hardwick’s Highway Issues Advocates

The Township Committee has appointed Chris and Tara Mezzanotte as its liaison to represent Hardwick in matters involving Route I-80 in New Jersey and Route 611 in Pennsylvania.

Both had served as volunteer consultants to former Hardwick Mayor Kevin Duffy and former Knowlton Mayor Adele Starrs until each retired from their positions. The Mezzanottes will serve in a position similar to the one Duffy did to advocate for Hardwick.

With the appointments, township officials believe they will have a consistent voice on matters involving the New Jersey Department of Transportation and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. Both agencies held a progress meeting recently of which Hardwick had not been informed.

Current Hardwick Mayor Chris Jacksic said Chris Mezzanotte has more than 30 years’ experience in heavy and general construction and has expert knowledge in highways, bridges, drilling and excavating.

Tara Mezzanotte is the founder of the I-80 Fence and Safety Concerns at the Delaware Water Gap Coalition, which for the past four years has been assisting local government officials on major projects to Route 80 through the Delaware Water Gap that are being developed to mitigate issues including rockfall along the highway and the notorious “S” curves that follow the profile of the Delaware River.

“We want them to study all the problems so that they can design and evaluate all possible alternatives,” Mezzanotte said of the New Jersey DOT.

She added that the department has offered several different plans over the years but that the coalition has been concerned that the proper environmental impact statements, along with other studies, have not been completed.

Of immediate concern is the retaining wall project along portions of the highway that are mere inches from the river. In the short term, work has been ongoing for emergency repairs. But in the longer term, major sections of the wall must be replaced.

Mezzanotte said they were told initially that the project would cost $4.5 million and would be completed in nine months, requiring only nighttime work. That plan was revised, she said, to now be a two-year, $200 million project.

“This is a radical change,” she said, adding that there have been no studies to support the scope of the change.

The Mezzanottes are residents of Knowlton, which along with Hardwick, host Interstate Route 80 through the Delaware Water Gap.

While only a three-mile stretch through the Gap, it’s considered one of the more treacherous portions of road in the Interstate Highway System.

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.