BELMAR/LAKE COMO, NJ — Last year’s hike in the New Jersey gas tax has found its way to Belmar — in the form of a $350,000 road improvement grant.
The borough is among 505 municipalities that will receive more than $161 million in Municipal Aid grants, representing the largest distribution provided through the program in N.J. Department of Transportation history.
However, Lake Como was shut out of this annual round of grant awards — being among 27 municipalities in the state whose applications were not approved for funding.
Gov. Phil Murphy credited the controversial $23 cents per gallon increase in the gas tax — signed by Gov. Chris Christie before leaving office last year — with more than doubling the Transportation Trust Fund, which fuels the Municipal Aid program for local road and bridge safety improvement projects. In 2017, the grant program distributed nearly $79 million to 364 municipalities.
“These funds are instrumental in allowing each municipality to maintain its local roads and bridges in a state of good repair,” Gov. Murphy said in a February 21 statement announcing the grant recipients. “Providing Municipal Aid grants to nearly 90 percent of our towns and cities is truly historic and demonstrates our commitment to relieve pressure on local property taxpayers.”
Replenishing the TTF to provide funding for transportation infrastructure improvements without raising property taxes also was touted by legislators in the 30th District, which includes Belmar and Lake Como.
“Our towns will not have to increase taxes in order to raise the required revenue if they were to fund them independently,” State Sen. Robert Singer said in a press release with Assemblymen Sean Kean and Edward “Ned” Thomson (all R-Monmouth/Ocean). “Improved road conditions with little impact on local governments’ budgets is a win-win outcome for 30th District taxpayers.”
Of New Jersey’s total 565 municipalities, 532 submitted grant applications with 505 receiving awards. Those 27 communities not receiving funding, including Lake Como, may be considered for “other opportunities to make transportation improvements,” according to the governor’s office.
Lake Como Borough Clerk/Administrator Louise Mekosh said the borough applied for funding to complete final-phase improvements to Main Street.
Belmar’s $350,000 was awarded for “various streets,” with no other details provided. Last year, the borough received a $256,500 Municipal Aid grant for 12th Avenue improvements.
Under the Municipal Aid grant program, each of the state’s 21 counties receives a share of the total funding based on population and the number of local centerline miles.
In this latest round of funding, Monmouth County received nearly $13 million in grants for 39 projects — the largest being an award of $359,640 to Spring Lake for first-phase improvements to Fifth Avenue.
The full list of towns and awards is available on the state Department of Transportation website by clicking here.

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