WEST DEPTFORD There's a small stretch of roadway in Gloucester County that will soon play a big role in what some describe as the biggest economic development project in the county's history.
Paradise Road seems appropriately named for the artery that will help link I-295 to the first new port on the Delaware River in decades, in Paulsboro.
But for people who currently use the roadway every day, the cratered path is anything but heavenly.
"Looks like they were practicing dropping bombs," said an employee at the Gloucester County Utilities Authority, which is situated on the road. "It's absolutely deplorable."
The employee's disdain for the road - a portion of which was recently repaved by the county, near a new bridge to the port - has been echoed in several complaints to West Deptford, too.
"It is very inconvenient," said Claire Riggs, a spokeswoman for Axeon Specialty Products, which is also on the road - and specializes in asphalt.
She did not know of any specific claims or damage reported by the approximately 100 employees at the site, but noted that several workers had expressed frustration.
"I have spoken with the mayor and he has assured that he is aware of the situation, and that they will be addressing it," Riggs said.
The harsh winter may have played a role in worsening the damaged road, she said.
Acting West Deptford Administrator Brandon Umba, acknowledging complaints to the township, said the township engineer was assessing the road Wednesday. What would be implemented, though, remained unclear - as did the future oversight of the road.
"We're looking to see if the county will take over the full Paradise Road," Umba said. "It's going to become a major roadway."
Umba said he and the administrator from Paulsboro, which owns a small section of the road near the river, according to the tax maps, would likely draft a letter requesting county ownership.
Mantua Grove Road, a county road, leads traffic from I-295 and becomes Paradise Road once it crosses Crown Point Road.
The utilities authority employee, who asked not to be identified by name, questioned why the whole road wasn't simply repaved.
"It's like night and day," the employee said of a section of the road with a bright and smooth finish.
County spokeswoman Debra Sellitto said the repaving near the bridge was done in November as part of the construction of the bridge over Mantua Creek.
The port, across the river from Philadelphia International Airport, is scheduled to open next year and slated to handle break-bulk cargo - such as plywood, steel coils, fruit, and cocoa beans. The Gloucester County Improvement Authority has touted it as the county's biggest economic development project.
"As for the takeover of the road, it may be something that can be reviewed in the future," Sellitto said in an e-mail, "but for now it remains a municipal road."