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Gov. Murphy Announces $161 Million in Grants for NJ Municipalities

November 23, 2020 by Sara Wilkerson
The approach to the Goethals Bridge in New York. (Photo by Dan McCue)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy recently announced that the New Jersey Department of Transportation will be awarding $161.25 million in municipal aid grants to advance road, bridge, safety, and quality-of-life improvements. Over 540 cities and towns throughout the state will benefit from the grant funds. 

“These grants are further demonstration of the partnership between my administration and our communities to build a stronger, safer, and more modern transportation network,” said Murphy. 

“In a state as densely populated as New Jersey, where our interconnectedness is a strength, these vital investments will increase safety, foster mobility, and improve the quality-of-life for New Jerseyans statewide,” continued Murphy. 

The Municipal Aid program under NJDOT received 635 applications from 549 different municipalities, with a total of $342 million requested. Applications for the municipal grants were reviewed by state municipal engineers and NJDOT staff after the July 1, 2020 application deadline. 

For those seeking municipal aid funding, there were seven categories that they could apply for funding under: roadway preservation, roadway safety, quality of life, mobility, bikeway, pedestrian safety, and bridge preservation. 

Counties were evaluated based on their population, the number of centerline miles within county lines, as well as their past performances in connection with the timely award of projects and construction close-out factors. 

On a municipality level, municipalities compete with others in their county for shares of the grant aid. NJDOT provides 75% of the grant amount when a town awards a contract and the remaining 25% upon completion of the project. 

As part of the evaluations, NJDOT also determines if municipalities within the applying counties have adopted a Complete Streets policy, which is a policy that, according to NJDOT, “requires that future roadway improvement projects include safe accommodations for all users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, transit riders and the mobility-impaired.” 

Of the 543 municipalities receiving aid, 193 municipalities will receive allocations from the $62,643,780 that is reserved specifically for those with a Complete Streets policy. 

Besides the Complete Streets policy, municipalities can also qualify for Urban Aid within the municipal grant program as defined under state law, with the amounts determined by the Department of Community Affairs. Approximately $10 million of the total $161 million will be allocated for municipalities who qualify. 

Funding for the municipal aid program was made possible through the state’s Transportation Trust Fund, which, according to the New Jersey State League of Municipalities website, “provides the opportunity for [New Jersey] state assistance to local governments for the funding of road, bridge, and other transportation projects.” 

The TTF recently renewed its funding to aid the state government in providing the municipal grants back in 2016, doubling its funding from $78.75 million to the $161.25 million given out this year. Additionally, the TTF and NJDOT have increased the number of municipalities receiving grants from about 370 a year prior to the TTF renewal to 543 municipalities this year. 

“The Murphy administration maintains its commitment to communities by providing municipalities the resources to make important safety, infrastructure, and quality-of-life improvements without burdening local property taxpayers,” NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti stated. 

“We were pleased to award grants to nearly every municipality in New Jersey,” added Gutierrez-Scaccetti. 

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