Turnpike: Construction on Schedule Despite Misstep Moving Graves

Tue August 26, 2003 - National Edition

NEWARK (AP) Officials said the October start date for construction of a New Jersey Turnpike interchange to serve the Secaucus Transfer Station will not be delayed despite problems moving thousands of graves from the site.

Officials said Aug. 12, they’ll inspect the three new cemeteries they’ve selected to possibly house the remains before digging begins.

The Turnpike Authority moved 3,000 sets of remains from the Secaucus potter’s field, intending to rebury them at an empty site at Hoboken Cemetery in North Bergen. But unidentified remains were found in unmarked plots at the site and the plan was halted.

“We’re going to vet this process a little more with our newfound experience,” said Joe Orlando, a spokesman of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. “Just because there’s no grave markers doesn’t mean there’s no graves.”

Orlando said the $250-million 16X interchange is still scheduled to begin construction in October, with a projected completion in 2005. The Secaucus Transfer Station, a hub linking 10 of New Jersey Transit’s 11 rail lines, is to open for weekend service Sept. 6, and for full service later in the fall.

Orlando would not name the cemeteries where the remains could be moved after having been disinterred from the Laurel Hill Cemetery.

Orlando said all three potential new cemeteries are in Hudson County, a reflection of officials’ plan to keep the remains close to their original resting place.

Genene Morris, a spokeswoman of the state Cemetery Board, which licenses cemeteries, said the board would review the discovery of the remains at Hoboken Cemetery.

The cemetery has agreed to return the $150,000 the Turnpike Authority paid for the plots before the bone fragments were found.