Change in Grant Cycle Will Help 542 Municipalities Better Plan Future Work
TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy today announced that 96 percent of New Jersey municipalities will receive Municipal Aid grant awards, totaling $161.25 million for fiscal year 2020. These are the first awards being made under the new Municipal Aid grant cycle that better aligns with the state’s construction season and municipal budget cycles.
A total of 542 cities and towns across the state are receiving grants to advance road, bridge, safety, and quality-of-life improvements, continuing the Department of Transportation’s Commitment to Communities initiative. With the announcement of the 2020 grants, NJDOT will have awarded nearly $1.2 billion to local governments during the first 18 months of the Murphy Administration.
“Our administration sought to deliver a fairer approach to how government does business and this round of grants will, in the third straight year, reach more municipalities than in the previous fiscal year,” said Governor Murphy. “In addition, in the spring the Department of Transportation announced it was accelerating the Fiscal Year 2020 Municipal Aid grant cycle so we could make the awards months earlier than in years past to help municipalities better plan important infrastructure projects. Today, by awarding grants to 542 municipalities in the state, nearly 96 percent of all cities and towns in New Jersey will be poised to break ground as the construction season begins.”
In May, NJDOT announced an accelerated FY20 Municipal Aid grant cycle to make awards in November each year, rather than in the spring as was done in past years. The vast majority of towns and cities operate on a fiscal year running from January 1 through December 31. Knowing the amount of Municipal Aid before the fiscal year begins helps municipalities better determine which projects will move forward that year.
“Accelerating the Municipal Aid grant award cycle this year is an example of the Murphy Administration’s commitment to listening to communities and delivering on our promise,” said NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “This change, along with NJDOT’s new Local Aid Resource Center, are making a real difference in providing municipalities the resources to improve safety and increase the reliability of the State’s transportation system at all levels of government.”
In addition to changing the grant cycle, NJDOT created a Local Aid Resource Center this year to support local public agencies, fulfilling a pledge to offer proactive assistance. The Resource Center assists communities with project planning, grant applications, project delivery, and guidance through the federal grant process by offering customized in-person training sessions, webinars, a library of YouTube videos, and a dedicated telephone hotline to receive technical assistance.
The competitive Municipal Aid grant program attracted 661 applications from 546 different municipalities in FY20 with a total of $368 million in work. Project applications are evaluated and rated on their merits by NJDOT Local Aid staff and an independent panel of New Jersey municipal engineers review the Local Aid recommendations. This process resulted in 545 awards to 542 municipalities. To see the list of FY20 grants, click here.
Under the Municipal Aid grant program, each county is apportioned a share of the total funding based on population and the number of local centerline miles. Municipalities compete for portions of their county’s share. NJDOT provides 75 percent of the grant amount when a town awards a contract and the remaining 25 percent upon completion of the project. Of the $161.25 million, there is $10 million allotted for municipalities qualifying for urban aid under state law, with the amounts determined by the Department of Community Affairs.
In past years, applications were due to NJDOT by October. By accelerating the process, applications for Municipal Aid grants this year were submitted to the Department by July 2019. They were judiciously reviewed this summer so the announcement could be made by November 30.
There are seven project categories within the Municipal Aid program eligible for funding: roadway preservation, roadway safety, quality of life, mobility, bikeway, pedestrian safety, and bridge preservation. Past performance in connection with timely award of projects and construction close-out factor were part of the evaluation of the proposals. When evaluating applications, NJDOT also verifies if the municipality has adopted Complete Streets policies. Complete Streets policies, establishes guidelines that require consideration be given to pedestrians and bicyclists when local transportation projects are being planned, designed, and built