December 2, 2020
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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) and the New Jersey Department of Transportation jointly announced a series of infrastructure projects to enhance safety and vehicle movement at the Port of New York and New Jersey during a November 17 event.

[Above photo via the New Jersey DOT.]

“For decades, New Jersey and our ports have been the corridor through which much of our nation’s economic activity has flowed,” the governor said in a statement.

Gov. Murphy

“I’m thrilled that these critical projects will further enhance regional operations and contribute to a stronger, more modern infrastructure that will both deliver safer roads and bridges as well as fuel our state’s economic recovery — not just as we work toward the end of the pandemic, but for decades to come,” he added.

“In doing so, the jobs here at the port, and the jobs created by the infrastructure projects around us will help ensure a stronger, fairer, and more resilient post-COVID economy,” the governor noted.

Commissioner Gutierrez-Scaccetti

“The New Jersey Department of Transportation has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in advancing projects in the port district that directly and indirectly support the efficient movement of goods,” added Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, New Jersey DOT’s commissioner. “The investment in these ‘Portway’ projects today ensures our road and bridge network will be able to handle the intermodal freight needs of the future in a safe and efficient manner.”

The New Jersey DOT added that the Port of New York and New Jersey – comprised of facilities in both states – serves more than 134 million people regionally, and supports roughly 500,000 jobs that generate billions of dollars in economic activity each year.

The agency added that this infrastructure upgrade effort for the port encompasses three roadway and bridge projects:

  • The Route 22 Chestnut Street Bridge Project: the New Jersey DOT is overseeing the replacement of Chestnut Street Bridge on the Route 22 mainline, located just west of Garden State Parkway in Union Township, Union County. The original bridge – built in 1929 and running east to Newark Liberty International Airport/Port Newark – carries four lanes of traffic and is structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. A new single span replacement bridge, once complete, will enhance safety of the motoring public on Chestnut Street and provide shoulders for safer movement.
  • The Route 7/Wittpenn Bridge Replacement Project: A linchpin to the broader $700 million Portway Corridor Program, the Route 7/Wittpenn Bridge replacement is a nearly $500 million project constructing a new lift-span bridge over the Hackensack River to replace the existing lift-span bridge built in 1930. The improvements within this project will strengthen access to and between the Newark-Elizabeth Air/Seaport Complex, intermodal rail facilities, trucking and warehousing/transfer facilities, and the regional surface transportation system. The new, wider vertical lift bridge doubles the vertical clearance over Hackensack River from 35-feet to 70-feet, resulting in fewer openings and less congestion. When the new bridge opens this spring, it will improve safety, alleviate congestion, and reduce the number of bridge openings by 70 percent.
  • The Route 27/Dehart Place Project: Located less than three miles west of Newark Liberty International Airport and less than five miles from the Port, this milling and resurfacing project will enhance safety for pedestrians in the adjacent community as port activity continues to increase. The improvements also include pedestrian countdown signal heads, Americans with Disabilities-compliant ramps, revised traffic signal timings, push buttons, lighting evaluations at signalized intersections, cross walks, bicycle compatible grates, and replacement of select deteriorated curb pieces and sidewalks, in addition to the milling and road resurfacing work. Elizabeth and Newark residents, in particular, are looking forward to this project.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey DOT issued $161.25 million in Municipal Aid grants on November 18 to 543 cities and towns statewide to advance a variety of road, bridge, safety, and quality-of-life improvements.

Photo by the New Jersey DOT

The agency noted that the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) renewal in 2016 made it possible to continue to award $161.25 million annually – more than double the $78.75 million available before the TTF renewal.

In addition, the extra allow the New Jersey DOT to increase the number of municipalities receiving grants from about 370 a year prior to the TTF renewal to 543 municipalities in 2020.

According to a statement by the New Jersey Governor’s office, under the Municipal Aid grant program, each county is apportioned a share of the total funding based on population and the number of local centerline miles – with municipalities competing for portions of their county’s share.

The New Jersey DOT then provides 75 percent of the grant amount when a town awards a contract and the remaining 25 percent upon completion of the project.

editor@aashto.org

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