WESTFIELD, NJ — Thirty-two percent of Union County's 400 bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, according to a study of Structurally Deficient Bridges in New Jersey conducted by the Engineers Labor-Employer Cooperative Union (ELEC).

Among the ailing bridges locally is the Park Ave. overpass (CR655) at the intersection of Rte. 22 in Scotch Plains. ELEC reports that the overall condition of this bridge is structurally deficient on the 1,109 ft. stretch, which was originally built in 1956 and handles an average daily traffic volume of 25,300 vehicles. According to ELEC, the roadway's deck is rated Satisfactory, superstructure: Fair, and substructure: Poor.

If that sounds disturbing, consider this: The Transportation Trust Fund, which was created to pay for repairs to, among other things, broken-down bridges is more than $18 billion in debt because the state has borrowed against its revenues for years, according to a new report released by New Jersey Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox.

Sign Up for E-News

Concerned over dwindling funds for capital repairs that are vital to New Jersey’s infrastructure, the bi-partisan Raritan Valley Rail Coalition will host Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski, chairman of the New Jersey Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee, at its public meeting on Monday, Jan. 26. Wisniewski will give an update on the state legislature’s latest efforts to increase funding for the for the trust fund. (One talked-about remedy is an increase on the state's gas tax, one of the lowest in the country, which may be more palatable in the wake of plummeting fuel prices.)

The meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Town of Westfield council chambers in the municipal building, located at 425 E. Broad St. Parking is available behind the main building.