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Palisades Parkway Festers With Potholes; NJ DOT Commissioner Says No Budget To Fix It

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Potholes on the Palisades Parkway in New Jersey have wrecked vehicles and sent some people to the hospital this winter.

Now, officials are pointing fingers at each other, while the pothole-plagued parkway festers, CBS 2's Steve Langford reported.

Crews were out trying to patch up the pockmarked Palisades Parkway near Fort Lee Friday but were making little progress.

"They have to fix them. I mean they have to because it's ruining cars," said Kingston resident Pat Thomas.

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

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

It's been 18 years since the Jersey side of the Palisades Parkway has been completely repaved. It should have been done within 15 years, according to some experts.

The Palisades Interstate Park Commission, which is responsible for the upkeep of the New Jersey section of the parkway, says it's up to the state of New Jersey to pay for the repaving project.

"The state does give appropriations for our operations and certainly this is part of a major repair that does need to be done and would have to be covered under a capital appropriation," said James Hall, the executive director of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.

The last time the Jersey part of the parkway was paved in 1996, the work was done and paid for by the state of New Jersey.

After no luck getting answers from the New Jersey Department of Transportation, Langford tracked DOT Commissioner James Simpson to an out-of-state meeting on Staten Island.

Langford: "Palisades Parkway -- when are you going to repave it?"

Simpson: "Well, I tell you, I'd love to repave it tomorrow. However, it's not a state road, and we don't have the budget for it. We just don't."

Langford: "New Jersey paid for it last time."

Simpson: "We paid for it last time. Those were different times; it was a long time ago."

Langford: "If you don't pay for it this time, those drivers are being punished."

Simpson: "We have a choice. 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."

Langford: "So what are you going to do about it?"

Simpson: "You know, I don't have an answer to it. I don't have an answer to the Palisades."

Langford: "Is this a political payback?"

Simpson: "No, it is not a political payback, Steve, not at all. Not at all. As a matter of fact, I asked my folks a week ago to take a look at the budget for the Palisades just so we have a real number; we have a real idea. If I were to all of a sudden decide I want to do the Palisades, that would mean that I would have to not do, let's say, Interstate 80."

Langford: "What about all these drivers?"

Simpson: "I got it. I got it."

Langford: "You saw the injuries."

Simpson: "Listen, have you ever been to New Jersey?"

Langford: "Have you ever been on the Palisades?"

Simpson: "I have, but no, not recently."

Back on the parkway, drivers have lost patience.

"Everyone's going to blame it on something else and until someone else gets killed, then they'll  actually stop and think about it," said Brooklyn resident Jeff Baumgarten.

The New York State Department of Transportation maintains its section of the parkway, which is much smoother.

CBS 2 placed calls to Gov. Chris Christie's office throughout the day in addition to an email asking what the governor plans to do about paving the Palisades Parkway, so far there has been no response.

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