We received great news back in September. The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) received an additional $100 million in federal funding from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). This money has allowed us to move forward with 28 projects spanning 19 counties. I was so glad to hear that the FHWA recognized the NJDOT’s continuous effectiveness in delivering projects that increase safety and make a positive difference in our communities. We’re making a difference, improving safety and getting things done.
Make no mistake, the additional $100 million in federal funding is a big deal. Each year, the FHWA redistributes what each state may spend before the Federal fiscal year ends, and this year is the most in federal funding redistribution that the NJDOT has ever received. In the past ten years, the most the NJDOT acquired was about $40 million in additional funds — so an increase by 250 percent makes all of us at the NJDOT very happy!
At the end of October, we held four press conferences to highlight a few of the projects that will be moving forward because of the additional funding. The first project we highlighted was the Route 22 Bloy Street Bridge Replacement Project in Hillside. This bridge, which is in poor condition, will be replaced, and the Route 22 eastbound and westbound lanes will be widened. In addition, we will be adding new sidewalks and improved ADA compliant curb ramps. This project will increase safety, while also easing congestion.
The second press conference was held in Highland Park where the advancement of a Safe Routes to School project is proceeding, which will improve the safety and access of sidewalks near the Irving School and the Bartle School in Highland Park. Because of the new federal funds we received in September, this project can now go to construction approximately 6 months to a year earlier than originally scheduled — which means Highland Park’s students will have safer routes to school even sooner than planned.
After Highland Park, we talked about the Streetscape Improvements along Main Street/Route 71 and Deal Lake Drive in Asbury Park. This project includes the installation of 20 benches, 112 bike racks and the planting of 116 trees. It’s being funded through a Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant — a federal program that supplies funds for communitybased “non-traditional” projects designed to strengthen the cultural, aesthetic and environmental aspects of the nation’s intermodal system.
The last press conference we held was for a Safe Routes to School Project in Princeton. In 2014 Princeton received a Safe Routes to School grant to make improvements at the intersections of Harrison Street and Hamilton Ave and Harrison Street and Franklin Ave. As our engineers were proceeding with the design, we discovered the need to upgrade and replace the signals at both intersections. With these funds, we can now make these necessary improvements, and this project can move to construction.
Without the additional money from the FWHA this year, these important safety projects, as well as 24 others, would have had to wait a year or two until there was funding to move forward. NJDOT received the additional funding in no small part due to this administration’s dedication to hearing and acting upon the concerns and needs of our constituents — and keeping funding and new projects in the pipeline.
These projects are proof that our Commitment to Communities is succeeding.
I believe that New Jersey is a state whose fabric is made up by a quilt of communities. We have interwoven areas where people walk to their local coffee shop, post office or they’re out on the street taking their children to school, and they engage with all parts of the community. What we at the NJDOT want to do is make sure that communities have the resources they need to advance the multimodal environment that is in front of us. That is our mission, and we’re glad that the FHWA acknowledged that, and is providing additional resources to help us reach our goals.
Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter and please feel free to share it with your colleagues. If you have any questions about any of the information in the newsletter please contact NJDOT’s Office of Community Constituent Relations at 609-963-1982.