Freehold Director Tom Arnone told MoreMonmouthMusings that the NJ Department of Transportation has agreed to restart the Shark River dredging project despite the fact that the Transportation Trust Fund has yet to be renewed and funded. The news came to Arnone from a DOT official via phone after business hours on Wednesday.
NJ DOT spokesman Kevin Israel confirmed that the project will restart in an email to MMM.
“The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) assessment of Transportation Trust Fund projects halted under the Governor’s Executive Order 210 is an ongoing process,” Israel said. “The Shark River debris removal project is being resumed because recent developments indicate that federal funding could be jeopardized, and the Executive Order specified allowances for projects required to ensure the receipt of federal funding.
“The suspension of TTF-funded projects was done in order to ensure NJDOT and NJ TRANSIT (NJT) have enough funding available for projects necessary for public health and safety, and to respond to unexpected emergency work.”
“I am very pleased that the Shark River dredging project is back on track,” Arnone said.”I am grateful to Acting DOT Commissioner Richard Hammer, his staff, the Office of Maritime Resources and Governor Christie’s Office for listening to our concerns and making this happen.”
Arnone abruptly cancelled a press conference this morning on the banks of the river that was to have announced a plan for restarting the project that had been twenty years in the making. The project was halted, along with most other State funded projects, on July 8 due to Governor Chris Christie’s Executive Order shutting down all but emergency projects after the legislature failed to pass legislation renewing the TTF.
Environmental regulations allow dredging the river only from July 1 though December 31. The project got started last December, stopped January 1 through June 30th and was halted again by Christie’s Order.
“Have faith in us,” Arnone said when cancelling the press conference this morning. “I apologize for bringing you all out here. It’s not about us, it’s about what is behind us,” he said pointing to the river. “Please continue to have faith in us, that is all I can ask.”
Neptune City Mayor Bob Brown speculated that the cancellation was an indication that a deal was in the works to restart the project. Arnone said that he hoped to have more news by the end of the day. He did and the news was good.