New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy recently announced more than $161 million in municipal aid grants for hundreds of cities and towns.
Specifically, $161.25 million will be dispersed across 542 municipalities for infrastructure and transportation safety projects. New Jersey has 565 municipalities, meaning 96% of the state’s towns and cities are receiving funding.
The funds, announced Nov. 26 as part of the Municipal Aid Grant Program, are meant to be used in fiscal 2020. The program provides cities and towns with funds for transportation-related projects.
The seven project categories eligible for funding within the program are: roadway preservation, roadway safety, quality of life, mobility, bikeway, pedestrian safety and bridge preservation.
The announcement marks the first municipal aid funds that were awarded under the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s realigned grant cycle, which is meant to better coincide with construction season. In the past, applications for these grants were due to NJDOT in October. This year, they were due in July.
“Our administration sought to deliver a fairer approach to how government does business and this round of grants will, in the third straight year, reach more municipalities than in the previous fiscal year,” Murphy said. “In addition, in the spring, the Department of Transportation announced it was accelerating the fiscal year 2020 municipal aid grant cycle so we could make the awards months earlier than in years past to help municipalities better plan important infrastructure projects.”
According to a press release from the governor’s office, 546 municipalities submitted a total of 661 applications (each municipality is allowed to submit up to two applications). Transportation officials assess the applications based on several criteria, including existing road conditions, traffic volumes and the project’s service to the public. They also verify that municipalities have adopted complete streets policies, which consider pedestrians and bicyclists in the planning of local transportation projects.
The Municipal Aid Grant Program is sustained through the state’s Transportation Trust Fund. Of the $161.25 million, some $10 million is allotted to municipalities that qualify for urban aid under state law. NJDOT provides 75% of the grant funding when a municipality awards a contract for a project and the remaining 25% when the project is completed.
According to the press release, with the announcement of the 2020 grants, NJDOT will have awarded nearly $1.2 billion to local government agencies since the start of the Murphy administration. He was sworn in as governor in January 2018.
This year, in addition to shifting the timeline for the Municipal Aid Grant Program, NJDOT created the Local Aid Resource Center. Meant as a resource for local government agencies that are interested in applying for grants, the center offers training sessions and webinars to assist with project planning and delivery.
“Accelerating the Municipal Aid Grant award cycle this year is an example of the Murphy administration’s commitment to listening to communities and delivering on our promise,” NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said. “This change, along with NJDOT’s new Local Aid Resource Center, are making a real difference in providing municipalities the resources to improve safety and increase the reliability of the state’s transportation system at all levels of government.”