By Freeholder Christopher Hudak, June 2018
Whether it’s responding to emergencies, getting our children to school, establishing a business, commuting to work, or simply going out for a night on the town: the residents of Union County all depend on public infrastructure to ensure that our communities are safe, prosperous and enjoyable places to live.
Providing modern and up-to-date infrastructure should be a “no-brainer” responsibility of government, but alas, national roads and bridges are crumbling. Failing to maintain our infrastructure not only leaves our nation unsafe and inconvenienced, it locks us out of economic opportunities.
Today, Union County municipalities are still struggling to find room in their budgets for basic improvements to local roads and public buildings, leaving business districts choked and causing a delay in re-vitalization projects for flood control and sewer improvements. That is why I stand behind the Union County Municipal Infrastructure Grant Program, which continues to be a valuable source of partnership and resources between our County and Local Governments.
In 2015, we proudly established this matching grant program. Motivated by a need to better manage revenue from the sale of Runnels Hospital, we decided that these funds served the County best by being reinvested directly back into the community. Through this grant: we’ve built roads, we’ve created jobs, and we’ve made our community better.
The grant program received an enthusiastic response from the start because it empowers local governments to prioritize the projects that they know will make a significant difference in their communities. Including this year’s awards, the county has made available $6 million dollars of infrastructure grant funding to the 21 municipalities- leveraging a possible total of $12 million towards infrastructure spending which otherwise may not have been appropriated across the municipal budgets.
My hometown of Linden provides an excellent example of how a spirit of partnership with County Government can lead to progress.
In the four years of the grant program, Linden has received a total of $415,000 dollars- that’s enough to help cover the cost of six major road and sidewalk improvement projects. Long stretches of East Blancke Street, West Henry Street, Maple Avenue, Knopf Street, Amon Terrace and Laurita Street have all been improved thanks to the funding from this grant. This includes the replacement of manhole covers, castings, improvements to sidewalks and curbs, and total re-pavements.
People rarely consider roads and bridges until they fail. That is why these long overdue repairs have eased the burden of travel around our town.
The curb and sidewalk improvements have been an even more noticeable difference for pedestrians, especially for Linden residents who are elderly or disabled, and for those who push strollers or accompany small children.
Whether you are driving, walking or cycling, roads and walkways are the lifeblood of a functioning community, and I am proud that this Freeholder Board continues to provide the financial assistance that enables Linden and all of our 21 municipalities to keep Union County moving forward.
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