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LATE INTERCEPTION PROPELS JETS PAST FAVRE AND THE VIKINGS. S-1 TODAY 67°/45°

50 Cents TUESDAY October 12, 2010

Rain, tapering off

T O M O R R O W 6 8 °/4 5 ° Partly sunny

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No brake for complaints By the numbers

Want to file a claim for damage to your car as a result of a pothole? Few who do are successful. Claims filed in 2009 for pothole damage: 643 Number paid: 8 Total payout for 2009: $2,386.43.

Christie casts shadow in D.C.

Obama pushes for transportation bill

Source: New Jersey Office of the Treasury

Where to call

By HERB JACKSON

To report a maintenance issue on a state road, call 1-800-POTHOLE or click on the Highway Maintenance Reporting button on the New Jersey Department of Transportation homepage at: www.nj.gov/transportation.

WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

A state Department of Transportation crew working to clear a sewer drain at Exit 65 on Route 80 in South Hackensack.

CHRIS PEDOTA/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

DOT crews respond to hundreds of gripes from public By KAREN ROUSE STAFF WRITER

Overgrown weeds and damaged guardrails. Missing manhole covers and busted traffic lights. Broken water mains and too many “houses for cash” fliers tacked to light posts. Trash everywhere. And potholes. Don’t get New Jersey drivers started on the potholes. Bergen and Passaic county motorists filed hundreds of complaints about the condition of North Jersey’s roads with the state Department of Transportation in the first seven months of this

year, records show. Among the top complaints were potholes, tall grass and garbage along Routes 4, 80 and other state-owned roads. “The [sight] is horrible,” one North Caldwell couple wrote in a letter to Governor Christie about an exit off Route 208. “The litter along this highway is embarrassing and disgusting. … This is the ‘Garden State.’ … At this exit, it looks like the ‘Dump State.’ ” In May, a Paramus man complained to the governor about grass “so high that smaller cars cannot be seen until it is too late, leading to the [chance] of a severe accident.” And a Midland

Park woman told the state if it wasn’t going to address the tall grass on Route 17, to “please so kindly let me know who my attorney will need to contact with my lawsuit when I am in an accident.” Transportation officials acknowledge there is a problem, due largely to the shrinking resources in the most congested state in the nation. Manpower at the agency has taken a hit over that last two decades, said Bill Carter, assistant commissioner of operations at the agency. In the 1980s, the agency had work crews made up of 15 to 18 people who would tackle garbage, potholes, graffiti and other maintenance issues on state See DOT Page A-8

President Obama met with mayors and governors at the White House on Monday, pushing his message that support for a major new transportation bill should be bipartisan because it will create jobs and build a better country. Governor Christie was in Pennsylvania campaigning for a Republican candidate – but managed to get in the way of that message. Christie announced on Thursday his decision to kill a new rail tunnel being built under the Hudson River because he was worried the state could not afford cost overruns. Without providing any details, he said advisers had warned him the anticipated $8.7 billion cost could grow by as much as $5 billion. The decision, now on hold, means other states would be able to collect the $3 billion in federal money slated for New Jersey. A day after Christie’s announcement, U.S. Transportation Secretary Raymond LaHood flew to Trenton to talk him out of it; the two agreed to a two-week postponement while options are considered. But killing the tunnel also enhanced Christie’s growing national reputation as a fiscal conservative, and it may have contributed to his winning a presidential straw poll at a Tea Party convention in Virginia over the weekend. At the White House, invited city and state leaders joined former transportation secreSee TRANSPORTATION Page A-8

Dramatic rescue nears for trapped miners Test runs of escape pod go flawlessly in Chile By FRANK BAJAK and VIVIAN SEQUERA

ä See how the escape pod and rescue procedure work. A-8

SAN JOSE MINE, Chile — They’ll come up one by one in green overalls bearing their names on their chests — first the fittest, then the weakest, twisting in a steel cage that proved itself with four flawless test runs deep into the earth. The dramatic endgame hastened Monday for the 33 Chilean miners who have braved two months underground, with rescuers reinforcing the

escape shaft and the 13-foot-tall rescue chamber sliding, as planned, nearly all the way to the trapped men. “It didn’t even raise any dust,” Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said. If all goes well, everything will be in place late tonight to begin pulling the men out, officials said. The lead psychologist for the rescue team recommended the extractions begin at dawn Wednesday. No official decision was announced, but Andre Sougarret, the

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Reporters surrounding Chilean Mining Minister Laurence Golborne on Monday near the camp where relatives of the trapped miners await updates.

rescue team coordinator, tweeted Monday evening that “today the miners sleep their last night together!” On Monday, the Phoenix I capsule — the biggest of three built by Chilean navy engineers, named for the mythic bird that rose from ashes — made its first test run after the top 180 feet of the shaft was encased in tubing, the rescue leader said. Then the empty capsule was winched 2,000 feet, just 40 feet short of the shaft system that has been the miners’ refuge since an Aug. 5 collapse. See CHILE Page A-8

ASSOCIATED PRESS

INSIDE Growth to be slow, economists say

U.S. responsible for killing captive?

Top forecasters say the economy will grow this year and next more slowly than previously thought, weakened by less spending to pay down debt. The expectations of the 46 economists polled were tempered by weak economic data. The panel reduced its forecast for economic growth to 2.6 percent in 2010 and 2011, down from its May forecast of 3.2. Forecast for jobs, home prices and the national deficit were also gloomy. — Complete story on L-7

The U.S. military launched an investigation Monday to determine whether a captured British aid worker was killed accidentally by the American rescue team, not by her Afghan captors, as officials originally said. After they initially blamed Taliban kidnappers for killing Linda Norgrove, American officials said a review indicated she may have been mortally wounded when U.S. forces threw a grenade into the room where she was held. — Complete story on A-9

Bomb forces homes to be evacuated Three streets were evacuated early Monday in Montclair as emergency officials detonated a small pipe bomb found in a driveway. The 2-inch-diameter bomb was found wrapped in a newspaper bag around 6:45 a.m., the Fire Department said. The discovery forced residents along Carolin Road, Aubrey Road and Gordonhurst Avenue from their homes for at least two hours. A small blast at 8:36 a.m. signaled the end of the incident when emergency officials detonated the bomb. — Complete story on A-3

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FROM PAGE ONE

A-8 THE RECORD

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2010

Chile: Rescuers set to begin retrieval of 33 trapped miners

From Page A-1 “We didn’t send it [all the way] down because we could risk that someone will jump in,” a grinning Golborne told reporters. Engineers had planned to extend the piping nearly twice as far, but they decided to stop after the sleeve — the hole is angled 11 degrees off vertical at its top before plumbing down, like a waterfall — became jammed during a probe. Rescue team psychologist Alberto Iturra said he recommended the first man be pulled out at dawn because the miners are to be taken by Chilean air force helicopters to the nearby city of Copiapo and fog tends to enshroud the mine at night. It is a roughly 10-minute flight, said Lt. Col. Aldo Carbone, the choppers’ squadron commander. He said the pilots have night-vision goggles but will not fly unless it is clear. Ambulances will be ready for backup. The drive would take about an hour.

Reaching miners

With one of the drill holes reaching the miners earlier than expected, the first of the 33 may soon be rescued using a tethered capsule called the “Phoenix.”

A look at the capsule ■ Must slide freely through 28-inch hole ■ Weighs about 930 pounds ■ Contains safety harness, oxygen for 90 minutes, an escape hatch through the floor and lighting ■ Miners will wear sunglasses to protect eyes from sunlight Wheels allow capsule to roll freely inside shaft ■ Two personnel will descend in capsule to where miners are trapped to help with rescue

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Who will be first?

Family members of the trapped miners have kept vigil in a tent city outside the collapsed San Officials have drawn up a secret Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile, and their presence has attracted a flurry of media.

list of which miners should come out first, but the order could change after paramedics and a mining expert first descend in the capsule to evaluate the men and oversee the journey upward. First out will be the four fittest of frame and mind, said health minister Jaime Manalich. Should glitches occur, these men will be best prepared to ride them out and tell their comrades what to expect. Next will be 10 who are weakest or ill. One miner suffers from hypertension. Another is a diabetic, and others have dental and respiratory infections or skin lesions from the mine’s oppressive humidity. The last out is expected to be Luiz Urzua, who was shift chief when the men became entombed, several family members of miners told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because they did not want to upset government officials. The men will take a twisting, 20minute ride for 2,041 feet up to the surface. It should take about an hour for the rescue capsule to make

a round trip, Aguilar told the AP. Golborne said all would be ready by 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. Officials wanted to make sure the concrete around the steel tubing at the top of the shaft set, he said. Plans called for the media to be blocked by a screen from viewing the miners when they reach the surface. A media platform has been set up more than 300 feet away from the mouth of the escape shaft. After being extracted, the miners will be ushered through inflatable tunnels, like the ones used in sports stadiums, to ambulances that will take them to a triage station. Once cleared by doctors there, they are to be taken to another area where they’ll be reunited with one to three family members chosen by each miner. After the reunion, each miner will be driven to a heliport for the flight to Copiapo.

attention Monday to their families. Just as the miners will need time to adjust once they have surfaced, so will their families, he said. Iturra recommended they leave the tent city where they have kept vigil, which is increasingly besieged by journalists. It sprang up amid piles of rock at the copper and gold mine isolated in the coastal desert of Atacama. “They need to get their feet firmly back on the ground as well,” he said. “That’s why I sent them home to sleep.” For the loved ones awaiting the miners, news that the rescue tunnel was nearly ready brought a mixture of joy and anxiety. Maria Segovia, whose 48-yearold brother, Dario, is among those trapped, said that when he is finally out, “I’ll tell him I love him, that I’m very proud of you.” Then, she said, smiling, “I’ll kick his backside” so he never goes into a mine Prepping the families again. Chile’s government has promIturra, who has tightly managed the miners’ underground lives to ised each miner at least six months keep them fit and busy, turned his of psychological support, in part to

■ Largest miner has 19-inch shoulder width

deal with the sudden fame. The miners have seemed happy in videos they filmed and sent to the surface, but some have avoided the exposure. And while Manalich insists they are unified, reflecting the disciplined teamwork that helped them survive, all that could change once they are out.

Frayed relations

Already, relations within and between their families have become strained as some seem to be getting more money and attention than others. A philanthropic Chilean mining executive, Leonardo Farkas, gave $10,000 checks in the miners’ names to each of the 33 families, and set up a fund to collect donations. Co-workers who weren’t trapped, but were left out of a job — including some who narrowly escaped getting crushed in the collapse — wonder whether they will be taken care of, too. One miner’s child was invited onto a Chilean TV game show where she earned thousands of

DOT

From Page A-1 roads, he said. Today, the agency has roughly 60 maintenance crews, with just six or seven bodies in each, said Carter. Their duties include picking up dead animal carcasses, cleaning inlets and pipes, and collecting litter — from couches and chairs to coffee cups. In winter, Carter said, the same crews plow and salt roads. Each crew covers an area of 50 to 70 miles, including ramps and shoulders. The crews are assigned to certain stretches of road, which they visit about every two weeks. Carter said crews are regularly dispatched to areas if there is an emergency issue — like an object in a lane that creates a danger to moving traffic. The crews have to multitask, said Joe Dee, spokesman for the Transportation department. “They’re not … sitting around waiting for a call,” he said. They may be assigned to cut grass, “but they could be dispatched to be filling a pothole on one road and they could get a call there is a dead deer carcass, maybe two” to remove at another location. Pothole complaints are among the most popular calls. Statewide last year, hundreds of motorists filed claims with the state to get reimbursed for new tires, struts and rims damaged after they struck a pothole. But few claims are successful, according to Andrew Pratt, spokesman for the state’s treasury. In 2009, he said, 643 claims were filed for pothole damage, but just eight were paid — at a total cost of $2,386.43. State statutes make filing a successful claim for damages against the state difficult, Pratt said. “Under Title 59, the state isn’t required to pay a pothole claim unless it has prior notice of the existence of a roadway hazard,” he said. Rosemary Barton, a Chester resident who works in Englewood Cliffs, knows firsthand. Earlier this year, she was driving on Route 80 when she hit a “huge, huge pothole.” She had a truck on each side of her and couldn’t dodge it in time. She arrived at work to find her right passenger tire was flat. She got an estimate for the cost and turned it in to the state, with her complaint. “Three weeks later,” she said, “I got a letter saying that,

Surface

Wire mesh doorway

Lower wheels Metal sleeve may be inserted into shaft to prevent walls from caving in

Will carry one miner at a time and take approximately 15 to 20 minutes to reach the surface

2,230 feet underground

MCT

Source: Reuters

dollars, and 27 of the 33 workers have filed a $10 million negligence lawsuit against the mine’s owners. A similar suit against government regulators is planned. The money rush will be intense — and temporary. The government required each miner to designate someone to receive their $1,600 monthly salary, and opened bank

accounts that only the miners themselves can access. But Behn said the miners need good financial advice as well so the money doesn’t melt away. “If they’re getting now a violent inflow of money, it should be administered so that it can serve them for the rest of their lives,” Behn said.

Transportation projects pushed

CHRIS PEDOTA/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

A New Jersey Department of Transportation crew working on a stretch of Route 80 in South Hackensack. Manpower at the agency has taken a hit over the last couple of decades.

What they said

Motorists filed hundreds of complaints about the condition of state roads that run through Bergen and Passaic counties between January and July of this year. Most were about potholes. Among them were the following: ä “pothole on rt 4w 153w rt4 on entrance to exxon station almost wiped out on my motorcycle extremely dangerous.” ä “BIG POTHOLE. AS BIG AS A CRATER. my tire is burst. FIX IT.” ä “Hit a big pothole last night and severely damaged my tire. Got off at the next exit, Exit 1, and examined the front left tire finding a large bubble. The tire must now be replaced.” ä “There are too many potholes to count ... This state is behind the times...The roads are a disaster and my car is going to be a wreck if they aren’t fixed. This is ridiculous.” ä “There is a knocked down sign in front of the Party Box Rt 17 South in Lodi. It is partially on the highway and is very dangerous.” ä “Sylvan Road in Englewood Cliffs slippery road not only today also previous years. Getting off from Clinton Avenue and like all the way down. My husband already spinned the car. Thank God nothing happened. Will appreciate your immediate attention. Thank you” ä “I am emailing you in regards to Rte 78 and West bounds in the express lanes. I wanted to know if there is some way that these roads can be cleaned up ... There are just way to much debris [in] the roads. Such as tires, pieces of metal lying on the road ... There has been a piece of metal pipe lying in this one spot for the pass 2 weeks o[r] so.” Source: New Jersey Department of Transportation

according to New Jersey statute, because I was the first person that reported the pothole, they couldn’t do anything for me.” Carter said crews will immediately respond to fill potholes that interfere with traffic. A pothole on the road shoulder “may stay there two or three days,” said Carter.

shifted to the eastern side, where there is more trash, to intensify the cleanup, Carter said. “We pick up litter every week, but one week in every eight weeks, we focus on litter, graffiti, and cutting down vegetation and grass,” he said. He said it “buys us more time” and makes an impression on motorists. But not all get the correct impression. A Saddle Brook woman wrote to Commissioner James Simpson that she found it “depressing to travel Route 80 from Saddle Brook to Totowa” because of the trash. In a June letter, Simpson said that while crews remove litter that interferes with motorists, “resources do not allow for every route to be cleared of litter on a weekly basis” because it is competing with the patching of potholes, mowing of grass, clearing of snow, and the cleaning of highway drainage,” the letter said. The first intensified cleanup was held in July. The next is scheduled for November, said Carter, who said he has already gotten positive feedback from four motorists that noticed their areas were cleaner. But crews remain stretched as motorists and municipal officials call about maintenance issues, he said. “We’re putting out a lot of fires,” he said.

“It’s not as high a priority as if it’s in a travel lane.” In August, the agency launched the Clean Up NJ campaign, which involves pooling crews together every eight weeks to tackle specific areas aggressively. Crews normally assigned to the western side of the state might be E-mail: rouse@northjersey.com

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Monday lobbied for Republican support from Capitol Hill for a burst of spending on transportation projects, calling his proposal a jobs creator for the middle class and an overdue investment in the country’s foundation. “There’s no reason why we can’t do this,” Obama said in a brief Rose Garden event. “There’s no reason why the world’s best infrastructure should lie beyond our borders. This is America. We’ve always had the best infrastructure. ... All we need is the political will.” Obama is proposing a $50 billion plan as an initial step toward a six-year program of transportation work. It calls for building, fixing or maintaining thousands of miles of roads, rail lines and airport runways, along with installing a new air navigation system to reduce travel delays, and other projects. The president unveiled the idea over Labor Day. Monday’s event amounted to another chance to promote it. The president met privately with governors, mayors, transportation officials and Cabinet secretaries and then stood with some of them before the cameras as he made his case. The timing also comes as Obama is eager to show action on the sluggish economy just ahead of the Nov. 2 congressional elections, with his party in jeopardy of losing a sizable number of seats.

— The Associated Press

Transportation From Page A-1 taries from Democratic and Republican administrations and touted a study that shows the United States is not investing enough in building the infrastructure that the 21st century economy will need. “Everywhere else, they’re thinking big,” Obama said at Rose Garden ceremony. “They’re creating jobs today, but they’re also playing to win tomorrow. So the bottom line is our shortsightedness has come due. We can no longer afford to sit still.” Obama is urging Congress to pass a $50 billion transportation bill quickly, possibly after the November election, while it continues to work on renewing the multiyear transportation formula program that expired in September 2009. Moments after leaving the Rose Garden, LaHood and several mayors and governors met with reporters outside the West Wing, and Christie’s rejection of the tunnel came up. If governors are clamoring for more federal money, LaHood was asked, how come Christie’s willing to shun it? “We are going to work with the governor over the next two weeks,” LaHood said. “And I believe over the next two weeks he will listen to a number of options that we will present. … So, stay tuned.”

LaHood rebuffed any followup, answering, “Any other questions?” when a reporter asked if Christie made a mistake halting the project. Other participants were more willing to talk about it. “It’s New Jersey’s loss when something like that happens. I think it’s very shortsighted,” Norman Mineta, transportation secretary under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, said as the news conference broke up. Mineta said it was proper to worry about cost overruns, but “that’s well within his control, since it is a state project, to go ahead and control those costs.” Some have speculated that killing the tunnel solves another transportation problem facing the state, the shortfall in the Transportation Trust Fund that pays for routine road, bridge and transit projects around the state. Mineta said Christie’s decision was not mentioned when the mayors and governors met with Obama. “I think partially it’s because, [they were thinking] my state will get the money if New Jersey doesn’t use the balance of it,” he said. E-mail: jackson@northjersey.com Blog: northjersey.com/herbjackson


Potholes, garbage irk Jersey drivers