Commissioner Weinstein Will Tour
Deficient Bridge in Essex, Somerset and
Union; Stressing Importance of Bridge Bond
Transportation Commissioner James Weinstein is scheduled to visit structurally deficient bridges on Wednesday, October 20, along the local roadway system in Essex, Somerset and Union counties to highlight the need to fund local bridge repair projects.
"The rate of deterioration on the local bridge system is increasing. We estimate that it would cost $1.2 billion to improve all of the structurally deficient county and municipal bridges throughout the state," Weinstein said. "If these investments are not made we could well be forced to reduce capacity on these bridges. Ultimately, that means commerce and goods movement suffers, degraded roadways will compromise safety and produce longer commutes and slower travel speeds."
On the November ballot is a question asking the public to authorize the Statewide and Local Bridge Bond Act of 1999, which was approved by the Legislature in June. If authorized, $250 million in funding would be directed to local governments across the state to reverse the trend of deterioration on county and municipal bridges.
Of the more than 2,400 bridges on the county and local systems, 22 percent are structurally deficient. Structural deficiency does not necessarily mean a bridge is unsafe, but indicates that it does need significant repairs. Deficient bridges that are unable to handle vehicle loads that would normally be expected at their location are posted to indicate the maximum weight allowable.
Weinstein said the Bridge Bond question currently up for consideration differs vastly from two previous Bridge Bond acts. No local funding match will be required. The counties will select the projects they want to advance and the funds will be distributed to the counties through a needs-based formula.
"We have to act now to avert a bad situation from becoming worse. New Jersey is the nation’s most densely populated state with one of the most heavily used transportation systems. We need more investment -- not less -- to continue to improve our quality of life and stay economically competitive," Weinstein added.