NJDOT awards $5.1 million in rail and community-based grants in Bergen and Passaic counties
Elected officials highlight the need
to renew the TTF to fund local projects
(Passaic) - New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner Jamie Fox, along with Senator Paul Sarlo, Assemblyman Gary Schaer, and Assemblywoman Marlene Caride today announced nearly $5.1 million in grants for projects in Bergen and Passaic counties while highlighting the need to find a dedicated revenue source to replenish the state Transportation Trust Fund (TTF).
The City of Passaic will receive a $750,000 grant for streetscape enhancements to Market Street in the Eastside section of the city, which is undergoing residential and commercial redevelopment. The first phase of the project, funded in part with $322,000 in TTF local aid grants in 2007, included infrastructure improvements such as water & sewer enhancements, curb work, and road and sidewalk reconstruction.
The grant announced today compliments the work that already has been done by creating a welcoming environment for residents and businesses. It will consist of quality of life improvements to the Market Street corridor and will include seating areas, bicycle racks, planters, trees, trash cans, and a new parking kiosk system. The intent is to provide a safer and more attractive setting for the people who walk, bike, or rely on public transportation in this area. The grant is jointly administered by NJDOT and the North Jersey Transportation Authority (NJTPA) and final approval is subject to NJTPA action.
“These investments will go a long way toward rejuvenating our communities, creating good paying jobs and laying the foundation for economic growth for generations to come. The $750,000 in federal gas tax dollars being reinvested here in the City of Passaic will enhance quality of life and give students and seniors a safer walk down Market Street,” Rep. Bill Pascrell said. “Instead of prioritizing investments in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, Congress has relegated themselves to passing short term funding measures while the state Transportation Trust Fund is nearly insolvent. Both Congress and the State of New Jersey have ignored this problem for far too long, and it’s past time we found a long-term solution to this crisis.”
NJDOT also is awarding a $4.3 million grant to replace the rail bridge spanning the Overpeck Creek in Ridgefield Park, Bergen County. The bridge serves as a critical link for freight rail in the region with an average of 25,000 rail cars traversing the bridge each year. It was originally built in the early 1900s with three spans – a north approach, a south approach, and a center span. The north and south approaches were rehabilitated in 1985. This project will replace all three spans with a new steel bent system and steel superstructure, as well as new steel and concrete abutments on the north and south sides.
“These grants are among hundreds of local aid awards distributed by NJDOT every year to help local and county governments advance essential projects without burdening local property taxpayers,” NJDOT Commissioner Jamie Fox said. “Without replenishing the TTF, nearly $200 million in Local Aid grants are in jeopardy.”
In the past three years, Bergen and Passaic counties combined have received nearly $62 million in state TTF funds to pave roads, fix bridges, improve drainage, and make sure children have safe sidewalks to get to school. Bergen County alone has received more than $40.5 million in local aid funded through the TTF, and Passaic County has received more than $21.3 million in the past three years.
On July 1 the TTF will be out of money, and funds for these local projects will be gone unless a dedicated revenue source for the TTF is identified.
“We worked closely with the department to acquire these important funds,” Sen. Sarlo said. “The projects funded by these grants will benefit not only our district, but the entire state. The rail grant ensures that commerce will continue to move within and through our district, while the streetscape grant supports the continued improvement of the City of Passaic. Replenishing the TTF will provide funding for valuable grants such as these in the future, which take the burden from the taxpayer while allowing us to move forward with high priority projects.”
“These grants will help provide much-need improvements to our aging transportation infrastructure while boosting commerce in Passaic and Bergen counties, as well as the entire region,” Assemblyman Gary Schaer said. “I’m grateful for the DOT’s support of these projects, which underscore the importance of replenishing our Transportation Trust Fund. Historically, the TTF has been integral in boosting commerce, protecting public safety and improving the quality of life throughout New Jersey. These grants will do just that while helping cash-strapped municipalities fund critical projects and stay within the limits of the two percent property tax cap.”
"I am pleased that projects in Passaic and Ridgefield Park will receive these grants to make much needed improvements to local infrastructure,” Assemblywoman Marlene Caride said. “As municipalities struggle to balance budgets while maintaining services for residents, these grants can help bridge those financial gaps. This is why it is so important that we have a healthy Transportation Trust Fund to properly maintain our aging infrastructure and provide for the safety of residents. I look forward to seeing these projects come to fruition, and continuing to work with my colleagues in the Assembly to find a resolution to the fund's financial woes so that our municipalities and our residents can continue to benefit from these valuable grants."
In FY15, NJDOT TTF-funded Local Aid grant programs totaled $196 million. Each year, Local Aid grants represent a significant portion of NJDOT funds programmed for Local System Support, which includes money for road and bridge improvement projects, as well as local lead projects, regional planning and project development, and transportation enhancement projects. Without renewing the state Transportation Trust Fund, this money will not be available for municipalities.