New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti and East Windsor Mayor Janice Mironov recently announced the award of a $450,000 Local Aid Bikeways grant to East Windsor Township for the development of the Union Transportation Trail from Old York Rd to Airport Rd.
The grant, announced on January 22nd, is the second funding grant for the development of the 3.2 mile long trail.
In 2017 the DVRPC Regional Trails Program awarded $135,000 to do the preliminary study and design work. The new grant will continue the final design and should generate a portion of the construction money needed to build the trail. The Union Transportation Trail currently extends nine miles through Upper Freehold Township in Monmouth County. The East Windsor portion will bring it into the Circuit Trails network in Mercer County.
Here is a link to the full video of the press conference.
Local Aid Bikeways funding comes from NJDOT’s Local Aid Bikeways Program. The Bikeways money is just a small sliver of NJDOT Local Aid funded by the Transportation Trust Fund Local Aid Program.
In 2018, thanks to new revenue generated by raising the gas tax, NJDOT Local Aid Funding doubled.
The commissioner noted at the press conference that the program attracted applications that totaled more than $18 million worth of bikeway projects.
This fund dates back to Governor Whitman’s administration in the mid-1990’s that set aside $7 million with a goal to build 2000 miles of bikeways in the state.
That amount has been scaled back significantly and the fund has remained static at $1 million a year for nearly two decades.
The broader Local Aid program does permit the development of bike/ped infrastructure but currently only about 3 percent of those funds have been awarded. The assumption is that cash-strapped municipalities rely on local aid to maintain there streets and therefore adding sidewalks and trails is a lower priority.
The Circuit Trails Coalition 500 Miles by 2025 Action Plan calls on NJ to increase funding to build more trails and bicycle and pedestrian friendly infrastructure to get people to the trails.