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Congressman announces initial approval for Monmouth projects

Heavily traveled bridges on Route 33 and Route 35 and improvement projects for Freehold Borough and Middletown recently cleared their first hurdle as they were approved by the U.S. House of Representatives House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) on the way to a likely floor vote, said Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), who sponsored each of the four projects.

Smith worked with state and local officials to propose and insert prioritized local transportation projects into the Invest in America Act, a federal surface transportation reauthorization bill.

The bill must pass the full House and then be considered in the Senate, according to a press release from the congressman’s office.

“Working with state and local officials, we carefully identified and reviewed these projects to address road safety hazards and to ease travel for New Jersey drivers.

“Both bridges would replace old spans that are structurally unsound and should have been replaced years ago.

“Route 33 and Route 35 are two of the heaviest traveled state highways in my district and many travelers will continue to use these bridges for many years, making these road improvements necessary and reasonable investments,” Smith said.

In Monmouth County, Smith’s requests led to four projects being added to the transportation bill:

• The Route 33 Bridge Over the Millstone River Replacement Project in Millstone Township.

Sponsored by the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT), the Route 33 Bridge Over the Millstone River Replacement Project will substitute a dangerous structure with a modern, safer span.

The current bridge, built in 1926, has been deemed structurally deficient. The estimated cost of the project is $4.55 million, with 80%, or $3.64 million, covered by Smith’s request to the T&I Committee.

• The Route 35 Bridge Over the North Branch of Wreck Pond at the Wall Township-Spring Lake Heights border.

The state DOT is the main sponsor of the Route 35 Bridge Over the North Branch of Wreck Pond replacement project.

The current bridge which has been deemed structurally deficient and functionally obsolete was constructed in 1931 and is used by thousands of people visiting the Jersey Shore.

The estimated project cost is $4.66 million, for which Smith successfully sought from the committee the maximum 80% federal share, or $3.74 million.

• The Koleda Park Improvement Project in Middletown.

Middletown, which is the sponsor of the project, would convert a vacant lot into useful community space. The project includes a driveway for an adjacent elementary school to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety at a nearby intersection.

A properly maintained Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant parking lot on the site will reduce the need for visitors to park on neighborhood streets, offering better safety for those visiting the area for recreation at nearby recreational sites.

Middletown has agreed to meet the 20% local sponsor match. The project is expected to cost $1 million and Smith requested the maximum 80% of the funding, or $800,000.

Smith said the Koleda Park project will make for much safer parking and walking for the many people who visit the popular park.

“The project would make the Koleda Park area much safer for the children and families who frequent the lake, ponds and other recreational sites. It will give drivers and their passengers much safer options for off-street parking and for walking to their destinations,” he said.

• The Freehold Borough Parking Improvement Project at the McGackin Triangle Parking Lot, South Street.

This project would help alleviate limited parking facilities in Freehold Borough. The project increases the number of parking spaces in the McGackin lot from 54 to 67, upgrading the heavily used parking lot while also providing green space and reduced storm water runoff.

Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant curb ramps and crosswalks will be installed to allow increased accessibility. Parking will serve nearby Monmouth County government service buildings, offices and small businesses.

Freehold Borough is prepared to meet the 20% local match. The anticipated cost of the project is $697,145 and Smith requested the maximum funding of 80% ($557,716), according to the press release.

“Freehold Borough is the county seat of government in Monmouth County and many who have driven to Freehold know all too well about the limited parking. This parking project would improve access to local shops, eateries and offices,” the congressman said.

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