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Funding Secured At Last To Repair Pothole-Laden Palisades Parkway

ALPINE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- An end was in sight at last Tuesday to the pothole problem along the Palisades Interstate Parkway.

CBS 2 broke the story last month of the festering roadway, which has left vehicles wrecked and even sent some people to the hospital this winter. At long last Tuesday, state officials announced that funding had been secured for repairs.

And as CBS 2's Jessica Schneider reported, every driver who spoke with CBS 2 Tuesday expressed outrage and road rage that the craters persisted on the Palisades Interstate Parkway once they crossed into New Jersey. With word Tuesday that relief was in sight, some said it just was not soon enough.

The crater-like potholes have damaged cars, caused accidents, injured people such as Carol Bayard.

"I was lucky to survive and the next person might not be so lucky," Bayard said.

Bayard demolished her Mercedes Benz last month, after her car dipped into a pothole and careened across the road.

Bayard's story and others prompted New Jersey Commissioner of Transportation James Simpson to take a ride for himself, and see the rough road that hasn't been repaved in 18 years.

The condition of the Palisades Parkway is much better once you cross the state line into New York, where the interstate is maintained by the New York Department of Transportation, CBS 2's Hazel Sanchez reported in February.

But on the New Jersey side, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission is responsible for the upkeep of the parkway, but said it is up to the state of New Jersey to pay for the repaving project. And initially, Simpson told CBS 2's Steve Langford the money was not there and it was not possible right now.

"We have a choice," Simpson said on March 7. "We've got other roads like the Palisades Parkway, so if we were to pave the Palisades Parkway, there would be a state road that would not get paid. We have limited resources. That's the problem right now."

But soon afterward, Simpson took a ride on the Palisades and admitted the roadway is an embarrassment and promised to have it repaved.

"It was worse than some Third World countries that I've been to that I shall not name," Simpson told CBS 2 on March 8. "I could not believe that there was a highway in New Jersey that was as bad as it was."

Simpson said Langford's questions a day earlier made him wonder.

"It dawned on me that maybe I should take a look at it even though the Department of Transportation doesn't own it. The speed limit was 50 and I could only go 30," Simpson said.

The New Jersey DOT has now locked down funding for a repaving project, and Simpson told CBS 2 that the work will begin in late July or early August.

It was hopeful news for Trenton Brown, who vented his frustrations in a recent letter to DOT officials and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

"I said it's kind of like driving on Mars," said Brown, of Newburgh.

Brown said he is fine with waiting until this summer for a real fix. But other drivers who have spent hundreds of dollars in realignments for their cars said why wait?

"I don't understand why," said Edgardo Garcia of Monroe, N.Y. "Right now, since the weather is getting warmer, they should jump on it as soon as possible."

"That's far too late. The springtime is now," Don Jefferson told CBS 2's Jessica Schneider.

The New Jersey DOT estimated it will cost about $14.5 million to repair the pothole-plagued stretch of the Palisades Parkway. Crews have been out since Dec. 1, using about 40 tons of asphalt on area roads, but drivers said it has not helped much.

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