HP using a patchwork of grants will pave Valentine Street

By the end of the summer, residents living along Valentine Street will have a whole new road on which to drive. The borough on Thursday, April 16,  awarded a contract for the reconstruction of Valentine Street to Jads Construction Co. of South River. As part of that contract, Jads Construction will remove not only the road surface but the underlying road bed as well. Exact dates for the project have not yet been set, but it is expected to begin this spring or in early summer.

The Jads Construction work project is funded by a $300,000 grant from the state Transportation Trust Fund. A second portion of the road reconstruction will depend on a $400,000 grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) Municipal Aid program. The borough also has budgeted $98,585.40 of its own money for the work.

Because the road project is being funded by two separate grants, administratively the work has to be divided into two separate phases. It is not known who will perform the work funded by the municipal aid grant. Before the borough can solicit and accept bids for the project, it will need to draw up engineering plans, and submit them to the DOT for approval. Only once that process has been completed, can borough officials proceed to select a contractor. The street shows signs of previous repair projects, with patches at the foot of driveways, as well its share of pot holes.

The future funding of projects like the Valentine Street reconstruction is uncertain at the moment. The fiscal health of the state Transportation Trust Fund, which is providing the money for the first phase of the work, is uncertain. A proposed increase in the gas tax – intended to replenish the trust fund – lacks political support; and politicians are describing its future in bleak terms.

“We received funding from the Transportation Trust Fund to do this,” said Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler in an email. “Sadly, unless the Legislature takes action on this, this fund will be totally depleted next year.”

Council President Susan Welkovits, whose oversight responsibilities on council include infrastructure projects,  noted “that’s what municipalities depend upon for infrastructure repairs. It would be great if residents could write to their legislators. It would certainly help.”

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