TRENTON, NJ - State Assemblyman Roy Freiman (D-Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon) announced Thursday that Hillsborough will be receiving $500,000 from the state after Gov. Phil Murphy released $121 million in earmarked state funds that had been frozen in the summer, as a safeguard against tax collections falling short.
“I am pleased by the Governor and his Administration for their decision to unfreeze funds allocated within the state budget for FY2020," Freiman said.
“With $500,000, part of the $121 million in critical funding released today, Hillsborough will finally be able to start breaking ground on construction projects vital to the public safety of its residents and commuters," Freiman continued. “Among the planned construction will be much-needed work on Brown Avenue and Route 206, areas heavily traveled by trucks and large vehicles, to help divert traffic coming out of industrial areas and lessen disruptions in residential areas," he added.
Hundreds of 42- and 53-foot trailer trucks arrive and depart from the Midpoint Logistics Center on Route 206 weekly - without the benefit of a traffic light. The warehouse and distribution complex is just north of the railroad trestle that crosses over Route 206 and south of Brown Avenue.
There is also a school bus depot in the complex and on weekdays, twice a day, dozens of school buses - without passengers - have to make that same left-hand turn out of the complex and return after picking up and dropping off students.
The combination of truck and school bus traffic leaving and entering the complex causes traffic back-ups on Route 206 throughout the day.
"The main thing is 'How do you make it safer,?' " Freiman said.
The $500,000 will be used to construct a roadway linking the warehouse and distribution center with Brown Avenue, where there is an existing traffic light, according to Freiman.
"The goal is to get rid of that dangerous left-hand turn situation for the trucks that are leaving," Freiman said.
The state Department of Transportation will conduct engineering studies before construction will begin. Freiman was not able to offer a time frame for the project.
“As a 20-year resident of Hillsborough myself, I see today as a huge win for our community and for counties all across the State,” Freiman said.
Murphy froze a total of $235 million in July to hold in reserve when state lawmakers failed to include a higher tax rate for residents earning more than $1 million and other new taxes on pharmaceuticals in the state's $37.8 billion budget. At the time, Murphy explained he was concerned that the state might have to tap its $1.3 billion reserve fund to pay its bills.
He released some of that money earlier this year, and the remainder on Thursday.
State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio said based on tax collections in the first six months of 2019, there would be no need to tap into the "rainy day" reserve fund.
"Based on the latest revenue numbers, we currently anticipate we willl be able to meet our targeted fund balance pursuant to the governor's executive order," she said. "While there is always the risk of a future downturn, we are comfortable that we can maintain this surplus level throughout the remainder of fiscal year 2020."