HUNTERDON COUNTY, NJ - Hunterdon County Freeholder Zach Rich, the board’s liaison to county engineering, spoke April 21 about state grants the department has secured to go toward future bridge construction projects.

He said his hopes for local construction projects are that they play a role in stemming the tide of negativity about New Jersey’s potential economic conditions once executive orders on business closures and social distancing can ease. Rich said he sees an economic impact reaching beyond the stretch of roads each bridge services, but connecting to businesses countywide and beyond.

“These types of bridge and infrastructure projects are key to our region’s economic recovery,” he said. “With these projects, there is going to be an economic multiplier effect. Construction workers will be put to work, companies that provide bridge construction services will benefit as will the local economy from the project workers’ spending in the area and from construction material purchases. These are construction projects that we know will have an affirmative effect.”

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He lauded the success of the Hunterdon County Department of Public Works, including the Divisions of Roads, Bridges and Engineering in its efforts to gain grant funds toward county bridge projects.

“They deserve a big congratulations for bringing home the bacon once again,” he said.

Rich reported that the State Department of Transportation (NJDOT) approved county engineering’s grant applications for $450,000 for the historic Green Sergeant’s wooden covered bridge on Rosemont-Ringoes Road (CR 604) in Stockton; an $850,000 grant for County Bridge EV-262 located on Dunkard Church Road along the East Amwell and Delaware Township border; and a $566,000 grant for the replacement of Bridge E-243 on Van Lieus Road in East Amwell at the intersection of Back Brook Road.

“These grants are all from the state’s local bridges fund,” Rich said. “Our bridge projects protect the safety of county residents and all those using our roadways. This grant money helps to ultimately reduce the county’s capital improvement cost share of these projects, therefore benefitting our county taxpayers. The $850,000 project for Bridge EV-262 will be 100 percent funded by this NJDOT grant and the $450,000 for Green Sergeant’s Covered Bridge project provides 75 percent of its rehabilitation costs. The grant for Bridge E-243 in East Amwell will cover about one-third of the major bridge replacement project.”

On April 21, the board approved a handful of contracts for construction projects on the 2020 schedule. Contract awards not-to-exceed $32,500 to Trap Rock Industries of Kingston and another of $20,306.00 to Eastern Concrete Materials, Inc. were approved for vendors to furnish and deliver stone to the Hunterdon County Division of Roads and Bridges. The Board also approved $20,000 to Green Rock Recycling, LLC, for recycling of used concrete, reinforced concrete and bituminous concrete (asphalt) for the Division of Roads and Bridges.

At the freeholders’ first meeting of the month on April 7, the board approved the opening of bids on another critical bridge project, the reconstruction of County Bridge R-167 in Readington Township. Rich noted Bridge R-167 when he reported on county construction projects during the board’s special meeting on March 31, speaking about preparations for spring bid openings for Bridge R-167 and paving of CR-513 in High  Bridge Borough and CR-616 – reimbursable from the state’s Transportation Trust Fund –  as well as annual chip-seals, line-striping and bridge painting work to be done.

“Right now, with so much of the commerce in this nation, the state and Hunterdon County at a standstill, I believe it’s important to advance economic opportunities where we can,” Rich said. “Under Gov. Murphy’s executive orders, public construction projects are considered essential operations.”

“These projects are designed to protect the public on our roadways, and bridges are projected to pump as much as $7.5 million into the economy, depending on bid prices received, and they could not come at a better time,” he added. “Each project will put people to work and help contractors who win these bids maintain their businesses in very perilous times for any business owners right now.”