The New Jersey Department of Transportation announced July 31 that more than $47 million in grants has been issued for county bridge maintenance projects.
The grants are part of the Local Bridges, Future Needs program, which provides funds for improving county-jurisdiction bridges. According to an NJDOT press release, the $47.3 million in grant money marks the largest spate of bridge grant awards in the state’s history.
Improving infrastructure and transit systems was one of the pillars on which Gov. Phil Murphy campaigned. Murphy was sworn in in January.
“The Murphy administration has prioritized improving our state’s infrastructure at all levels,” NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said in the press release. Gutierrez-Scaccetti was sworn in to her role June 7.
Through this latest round of grants, each of New Jersey’s 21 counties receives at least $1 million. The biggest award, upward of $6 million, went to Monmouth County, which is located in eastern New Jersey about 30 miles south of Staten Island. The money will be devoted to four bridge reconstruction projects.
Some grants will be used for railing recoating and realignment activities. Others will be used to finance complete bridge replacements. Union County, located directly across the Arthur Kill strait from Staten Island, received $2.2 million to conduct four bridge replacements.
According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association’s 2018 bridge report, 8.8% of New Jersey’s bridges are structurally deficient.
Local Bridges, Future Needs is supported by the state’s Transportation Trust Fund. New Jersey’s 2016 fuel tax hike, in which the 14.5 cents-per-gallon gas tax was increased by 23 cents, created more revenue for bridge projects. NJDOT’s Division of Local Aid and Economic Development administers the grants.
“These state funds are vital for supporting county-owned infrastructure, over which thousands of motorists travel daily,” Gutierrez-Scaccetti said.