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The Port of Camden is among the winning projects chosen by the New Jersey Department of Transportation for $30 million in freight impact grants to improve traffic safety for large trucks.
Trucks carry 75% of the 600 million tons of goods transported annually through the state, which boasts 39,000 miles of public roads in its land transportation network, according to the state Department of Labor & Workforce Development.
“Funding the preservation and expansion of our freight transportation infrastructure is key to supporting the success of New Jersey’s role in our national supply chain,” Gov. Phil Murphy announced April 27.
The grants were awarded from the Local Freight Impact Fund to 21 municipalities and three counties. The fund is a competitive program created in 2016 as part of the Transportation Trust Fund reauthorization to pay (without the need for additional property taxes) for projects that emphasize safe movements of large-truck traffic, renew aging structures carrying large-truck traffic, promote economic development and support new transportation opportunities.
Camden County will receive $3 million to improve a port access truck route in a project totaling $25 million. The port, in southern New Jersey, is on the east bank of the Delaware River opposite the Port of Philadelphia. It is among the region’s largest economic generators — taking in everything from plywood and steel to coffee beans, fruit and salt.
Dan Keashen, county director of public affairs, described the current situation at the port is one of having antiquated infrastructure from the underground utilities to the roadway surface.
“This project would make the area cleaner by curing the area of pervasive flooding by separating and enhancing the storm water and sewer utilities, improving navigation for trucks and containers going to and from the port, and simplifying the grid of roadways that are in desperate need of revitalization,” Keashen said.
It involves rebuilding and re-engineering the stormwater and sewer system in Camden City and rebuilding port access roads on Ferry Avenue, 2nd Street and Atlantic Avenue. The project also features a utility enhancement to remove millions of gallons of rainwater out of the sewer system at a cost of $29 million, while improving economic development capacity at the port, Keashen explained.
Steel is offloaded at the Port of Camden, N.J. (Camden County)
While he stressed the funds are important to freight trucking and the Port of Camden, he also emphasized the influx of money will benefit regional and national supply chain flows, and the community.
Being able to improve the port and upgrade the infrastructure around the complex “will be a real win-win for the region and the city,” Keashen said. “It will allow the port to expand capacity, fix a 50-year-old flooding issue and bolster the nation’s supply chain by both moving more product and creating new jobs.”
The county plans to start the process of publicly procuring an engineer as soon as it receives the state funds.
NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti noted during the funding announcement that the grants are part of the state’s ongoing commitment to ensure the safety of commercial truck routes for moving freight efficiently to and from the state’s seaports, airports, warehouses and railyards.
Evaluated for crash frequency, connectivity to freight nodes and large-truck traffic volume, eligible projects must involve refurbishing bridges, preserving pavement, new construction or truck safety/mobility. In addition, applicants must show their projects will provide access to a port, warehouse distribution center or any other freight node by providing a narrative and a map supporting their request. A traffic study must also be submitted demonstrating at least a 10% large truck traffic volume.
Local governments will contribute $75.2 million toward the 25 projects that will receive $30 million from the impact fund grants so the investments will total over $105 million. Most grants (from $300,000 to $3.8 million) were awarded to fund portions of pavement improvement projects.
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