Amid Road Funding Standoff, Some Towns May Go It Alone

As the NJ DOT Trust Fund debacle continues, municipal officials are deciding whether to finish construction projects or gamble on waiting for a legislative solution.

📅   Mon July 25, 2016 - Northeast Edition


The projects of most concern are the ones on local streets near schools which officials had hoped would be complete before kids headed back to the classroom.
The projects of most concern are the ones on local streets near schools which officials had hoped would be complete before kids headed back to the classroom.

The website NJ.com is reporting that as the state shut down of road projects continues due to funding issues with the Transportation Trust Fund, municipal officials are deciding whether to finish construction projects or gamble on waiting for a legislative solution.

The projects of most concern are the ones on local streets near schools which officials had hoped would be complete before kids headed back to the classroom.

Officials in at least 10 percent of the states 566 municipalities are facing that quandary, said Joseph Tempesta Jr., Mayor of West Caldwell and president of theNew Jersey League of Municipalities.

"Each municipality has to make a difficult decision to finish a road project and risk not getting reimbursed, or to stop work, stiff the contractor and hope they don't get sued," Tempesta said. "You have safety issues to consider and potential legal issues to worry about."

State Department of Transportation officials said towns and contractors, who defy the executive order, do so at their own risk.

In Morris Plains, borough officials are concerned about a state funded paving projected they hoped would be completed before school starts.

The $160,000 local aid project to pave Mountain Way, where borough schools are located, was awarded in fiscal year 2015 and is on the shut down list. Officials don't want the road under construction when students return to classes, said Mayor Frank J. Druetzler.

"I thought we wouldn't be on the shutdown list," he said. "The reason we didn't get to it last year is we were notified (of the grant) late and couldn't do it before school opened. We said do it next year (2016) in the summer."

If the shutdown drags on, Druetzler said officials may have to make a decision. He declined to speculate what it could be.

"We want it finished before school starts," Druetzler said. "If it's not done by mid-August, we might have to make a decision."

Source: NJ.com