It is a pleasure to be here and speak with you again today. As Mayor of this City, it is a special pleasure for me to act as your host.
Today I want to talk about what makes Bayonne’s future so bright.
With that, I want to touch on several of the major projects and initiatives my administration has started over the past year and a half in an effort to move this City in the right direction.
I think you’ll find that many of them share the New Jersey Alliance for Action’s mission to improve the economy through the promotion of capital construction and infrastructure investment.
First, I would like to touch on the two major regional infrastructure projects being conducted in this City: the New Jersey Turnpike’s Interchange 14A Improvement Project, and the Port Authority’s Bayonne Bridge Navigational Clearance Project.
In early 2015 I proudly took part in the groundbreaking of the Interchange 14A project which represents a $310 million investment in roadway infrastructure.
Our roads in Bayonne are amongst the most highly trafficked in the nation, both by residents and by trucking companies moving goods across the country. This key investment in our roads, in a coordinated effort to calm and facilitate the flow of traffic, not only represents a commitment to infrastructure, but it is a commitment to commerce and economic development.
I am happy to say that the 14A project will reach its next major milestone in the coming days ahead of schedule. The project in its entirety is scheduled for completion in Fall of 2018.
Likewise, upon taking office in July 2014, I inherited the Bayonne Bridge Navigational Clearance Project in progress on the southernmost point of the City. This project represents an over $1.3 billion investment in bridge and transportation infrastructure.
Unquestionably, this project has seen its share of difficulties. A modern marvel, and first of its kind, it has stressed budgets, timelines, and local quality of life. Throughout this process I have and will remain in close communication and coordination with the Port Authority on a daily basis until work is complete.
In the end, this project will allow our waterways to accommodate larger ships entering our ports, translating to increased commerce. The completed product, now anticipated in 2019, will feature wider lanes for vehicular traffic, a bike and walkway extending the entire length of the bridge, and features that will accommodate future mass transit service.
Second, I would like to talk about what we are doing on the local level. In this sense we’ve taken a two-prong approach through investment in parks and recreation as well as local roadway infrastructure.
Parks and Rec is a huge part of what gives a community its identity. It’s a reason why people buy homes, send their kids to local schools, and enroll them in local programs. Investing in parks infrastructure is so critical, and is all too often overlooked.
On our part, we’ve invested heavily in local parks and recreational facilities.
Last fall we celebrated the completion of multi-million dollar renovations to Don Ahern Veterans Memorial Stadium. A now multi-use, state of the art facility complete with new turf baseball, softball, football, soccer, lacrosse, and multipurpose fields.
Later in October we cut the ribbon of the City’s first playground built specifically for children with special needs. This project, funded by a nearly quarter-million dollar grant from the Hudson County Open Space Fund, has allowed us to expand our reach and diversity of City recreation programs.
And in December we cut the ribbon and celebrated the nearly $2 million reconstruction of the Richard L. Korpi Ice Rink; a facility used by local sports teams, recreation leagues, and families participating in open skating.
I strongly believe that investing in our recreation facilities is one in the same with investing in our youth.
Local roadway infrastructure is also a high priority for my administration.
Last year we undertook an aggressive roads program, investing nearly $2 million locally, allowing us to reconstruct or resurface upwards of 40 to 50 blocks of aging local infrastructure.
I am proud to add that of the approximately $2 million invested, 70% was secured through grant funding, minimizing the impact on Bayonne taxpayers.
This year we are looking to continue the progress of last year by prioritizing areas that are in need of improvement.