To the Editor:
During one of the unproductive legislative periods in our nation’s history, the president and the Congress have reached an agreement on the need to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.
Their agreement means that billions of dollars will flow to states, counties, and municipalities to build, replace, and enhance those basic systems and services that government, at all levels, needs to properly serve the people.
Shortly, every state will be in competition for the infrastructure monies. Our state will need the collective strength of our congressional delegation to ensure that New Jersey receives its fair share.
For this to happen, the delegation must work with the governor’s office, and county and local governments to review application guidelines and develop strong proposals in response to the forthcoming request for proposals (RFPs). It will be critical for our congressman to hold timely meetings to update everyone on the legislation as it moves through the authorization, appropriation, and signing processes.
In Cape May County, many will view this process as the need to simply list our obvious needs: Route 55, obsolete bridges, beach protection, flooding, etc. However, that approach would be short-sighted and would fail to develop a plan that addresses our immediate needs as well as those in the next five to 10 years.
As an example, consider our county transportation system – it is primarily an automobile/road system. Public transportation is inadequate at best.
The federal government ranks Cape May County as one of the 10 worst regions in the nation to evacuate in a disaster. A forward-looking plan needs to be developed, not only for emergency situations but also to provide everyday services to the population, many of whom are approaching an age when driving is not an option.
The primary task for getting the state ready to successfully compete for infrastructure competition falls to our congressional delegation.
In Cape May County, we will need strong leadership from U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-2nd). He will need to organize all of the agencies mentioned above to develop strong and winning proposals.
A critical component will be for the county to update its master plan - it is badly out-of-date. Likewise, every municipality must see the benefits that could be achieved under the infrastructure grant funds.
Working together, under Van Drew’s leadership, our county will benefit.
ED. NOTE: The author is a member of Cape Issues.