Blog: 14A, Full Circle
Mixed emotions swirled my mind as I grabbed a copy paper box and packed my belongings off my desk in Bayonne on Wednesday, June 6, 2018. Over the past three-plus years I had accumulated a variety of pens and highlighters, a binder and folders with meeting minutes from months back, a framed photo of my boyfriend and I, an “office sweater” for when the guys turned the air conditioner down too cold, and a lot of other odds and ends that we all have in our desks at the office. Leaving a job is always bittersweet – you’re looking forward to new beginnings, yet sad to be saying goodbye to colleagues who were a part of your work life and shared laughs with through the years. I packed the box in my truck, wished everyone well and left interchange 14A for the last time.
During the drive home, I reminisced about how different life was in 2015 when we held the groundbreaking ceremony for the Interchange 14A Improvement Project. I was new to Stokes and relatively unfamiliar with the processes I was about to start. Thankfully, I had many years of communication experience and knew I would be just fine under the direction of our VP, Chris Stokes, who had been doing public involvement tasks successfully for many years. He helped guide me through the process and taught me virtually everything I now know – skills I am now imparting onto others who join our growing public involvement teams in four locations.
Back in 2015 I was also very unfamiliar with transportation and construction projects and I had certainly never heard of abatements and abutments. I even smiled thinking about how I’d reframe that photo of my ‘boyfriend’ and I, replacing it with a more recent photo from our wedding on September 30th. Life had changed in many ways, including the landscape in and around Bayonne. Massive, unsightly dirt piles have been transformed into beautiful, new connector bridges with fresh, black asphalt and unscathed striping. What a difference a few years could make!
Working on the 14A project was a great learning experience for so many reasons. I learned the art of responding to stakeholders’ emails and calls, upset by the improvement efforts taking place in their back yards – disrupting their lives and commutes. Building the trust of residents and business owners who came to rely on me for important questions was one of the rewarding aspects of this job. I also learned other valuable skills like meeting facilitation, relaying complex details in simplified ways, improved organization skills and countless other assets I will bring with me to the next project.
Speaking of the next project, I’m excited to share that we’ve partnered with the AECOM team again to provide the public involvement support on the Garden State Parkway Interchange 145 Improvement Project that kicked off this month in East Orange and the surrounding towns. The project will take approximately four years to complete and includes improvements at 145, Central Avenue, Oraton Parkway, and various overpass bridges along the parkway. Stop by the project website at www.GSPexit145.com.
Lastly, I’d like to thank all of the many team members I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the past few years on the 14A project: Tim, Ray, Tom, Pete, Paul, Eugene, Ken, Lyle, Mike G., Joe, Frank, Lisa, Tom, Izzy, Tony, Dan, Jordan, Mike M., Dave, Glen, Charles, everyone else who I may be forgetting from AECOM, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, Gannett Fleming, GPI, etc.—I apologize if I missed anyone! Thank you also to all of my own team members at Stokes who supported the project over the years with graphics, web development, photos, printing, and of course, outreach support! Thank you, everyone!
– Nicole Pace-Addeo, M.A. for Stokes Creative Group, Inc.
You can read more about the 14A project on our website by clicking here.
To view all of the photos taken by Stokes Creative Group, Inc. at this event, please visit the NJTA 14A project website by clicking here.