BY ALVARO MEDEIROS
Easily the most frequent complaint I hear as I go door-to-door to introduce myself to Berkeley Heights residents is that we need to do something about the Berkeley Heights roads. This is especially true when anyone lives near the border of New Providence, where good streets clearly meet the bad ones. And it’s even worse when we see so many of the county and state roads being paved to perfection while our streets continue to crumble.
This has been an ongoing problem for many years and there has been little progress to show for it. Meanwhile our current Town Council has reacted pretty meekly by shifting money within the budget to do more paving and patching this year leaving less budget for future repairs.
This is too little TOO LATE! We still have a 15-year waiting list for resident road repairs! We believe this is a major enough pain that it deserves investment.
So what can we do about this problem?
The answer lies in a bond – a road bond. Tax-free bonds are attractive to investors and a well-established method of funding public infrastructure across the U.S.
As of 2015, it would cost $11 million for contractors to repave all the roads in BH, per the Township’s study conducted at that time. About 20% of the roads have been repaved since then, which leaves about $8 million of road repair work remains to be done.
If elected, we would encourage the Town Council to authorize General Obligation to fund the accelerated work needed to completely repave and repair all of our roads by 2025; to minimize the tax impact, we would spread the financing over an eight-year period prioritizing the most disastrous roads.
Based on current and projected interest rates, a single $8M Bond would increase taxes approximately $25 per year on the average household to pay for the bond but spreading the cost over multiple bond issues and a few years we think that we could keep that much lower. For less than the cost of a tank of gas and much less than the cost of pot-hole related auto damage or personal injury, we could get more roads fixed sooner.
Let’s invest wisely and deliver better quality of roads to our deserving townspeople.