Story and photos by Jay Cook
AFTER THE HIGHLY-CONTESTED gas tax reinvigorated New Jersey’s depleted Transportation Trust Fund, local towns should soon see that money reinvested in their roadways.
Gov. Chris Christie announced last month that 373 total municipalities would receive nearly $79 million in state funding aimed to fix roadways. His office said the program attracted 628 applications state-wide.
“Most of the Municipal Aid grants will support road resurfacing or preservation projects, and will help towns make much needed repairs,” NJDOT Commissioner Richard T. Hammer said in a statement. “These grants will help keep local roads in a state of good repair without burdening local property taxes.”
Through the program, 29 towns in Monmouth County are receiving about $6.2 million in funding for different improvements, ranging from road resurfacing and replacements to curb and sidewalk restructuring.
Of those, eight municipalities in the Two River area will see nearly $1.6 million coming for roads vital to both residential neighborhoods and main travel arteries in the county.
One of the towns awarded money is Atlantic Highlands, which received $210,000 for its 2017 Roadway Improvement Program.
While the money will put a dent in estimated costs, borough administrator Adam Hubeny said the funding is a far cry from the $536,000 Atlantic Highlands asked for.
“The DOT in the past has never really fully funded any of our road improvement requests,” Hubeny said by phone on Wednesday. “Now with the new gas tax that was put into play, we felt comfortable and positive that we would get more money than what we normally would receive in the past.”
Hubeny referenced the gas tax that was authorized by Christie on Nov. 1, 2016, a 22.6 cent per gallon increase on highway fuel. Earlier in July, Christie authorized the shutdown of non-essential projects as the Transportation Trust Fund had run dry.
Hubeny said the borough was looking to improve five different stretches of road in town. Of the five improvements sought, three coincide with work along streets intersecting with 7th Avenue, said Hubeny. Their total estimated cost is $236,000.
The largest chunk of work is dedicated for a portion of Bayside Drive, which spans nearly 1.5 miles connecting Atlantic Highlands to Highlands, parallel to the Monmouth County Park System’s Henry Hudson Trail. That work alone is slated to cost about $260,000.
To gather the remaining money for the road improvements, Hubeny said he made a presentation at the June 14 borough council meeting asking for about $650,000 more in funding to help with the Road Improvement Program, along with additional projects.
When asked where the borough stands on which projects will get done, Hubeny said it would be up to the council to make those decisions.
“All of the roads in town are important to the governing body, but it’s a matter of what they want to make their priority,” he concluded.
The remaining Two River towns projects are as follows:
Colts Neck: Five Points Road, Phase II ($210,000)
Middletown: Tindall Road Resurfacing, Phase I ($185,000)
Red Bank: Pearl Street Roadway Improvements ($255,000)
Rumson: Hartshorne Lane Resurfacing ($185,000)
Sea Bright: East Ocean Avenue and various roadway improvements ($155,626)
Shrewsbury Borough: Monroe Avenue and North Monroe Avenue Improvements ($255,000)
Tinton Falls: Hope Road, Phase I ($185,000)
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