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Public Information » E-Newsletter » E-Newsletter Dec 08

New Era, New Span --- Bridge Commission's E-Newsletter --- December 2008


Commission’s Grant Assistance Exceeds $1 Million

The Burlington County Bridge Commission has helped Burlco towns obtain more than $1 million in grant monies.

Over the past several years, the Commission has obtained $ 1,062,550 in grant monies to assist municipalities with community development and revitalization projects. This is all thanks to the Commission’s partnership with Community Grants, Planning & Housing from East Windsor, an organization that brings the needed grant writing and planning expertise.

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“By assisting our partner municipalities with numerous community development and revitalization projects, we have helped promote growth and revitalization in Burlington County and saved taxpayers millions of dollars,” said Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II. “We remain committed to doing more.”

Although the Commission responds to townships’ requests for assistance, it is also proactive in its ability to offer help. Because of relationships established between township officials, Bridge Commissioners themselves, and Commission staff, the Commission is truly able to collaborate and help revitalize Burlington County and support the business community.

Read more about 2 new grant programs the Bridge Commission is offering assistance with...

BCBC Continues to Help BurlCo Towns Prepare Grant Applications

At the request of the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Burlington County Bridge Commission will help municipalities apply for two different grant programs, one to convert foreclosed or abandoned homes into affordable housing opportunities and the other to improve security, preservation and access to government records.

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“We’re asking the Bridge Commission to continue to assist towns already grappling with serious financial constraints—specifically, by covering the cost and doing the actual work to apply for and secure municipal grant dollars,” said Freeholder Director Aubrey A. Fenton.

At its December Commission meeting, Commission Chairman John Comegno announced that the Bridge Commission is wasting no time reaching out to affected towns: “Now more than ever, our taxpayers need the relief this kind of shared service brings. Staff has been directed to make this a priority, to help towns get funds they are entitled to—and desperately need.”

At least three BurlCo municipalities (Burlington City, Pemberton Township, Willingboro) could be eligible for up to $5 million from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which is intended to acquire, restore, and rehabilitate homes in neighborhoods threatened by crime and blight and remarket them to low-income families. Funds are part of the $700 billion Federal bailout that is targeted to aid communities in addressing foreclosures; towns can receive $2.5 million per neighborhood, up to the maximum.

The Public Archives Records Infrastructure Support (PARIS) Grant funds will help municipalities assess their current recordkeeping programs and facilities and make recommendations for improvement. Eligible towns can receive up to $40,000. PARIS grants are funded by the New Jersey Department of State, Division of Archives and Records Management.

Interested towns are asked to contact Gary LaVenia, the Bridge Commission’s Director of Improvement Authority Operations, at (856) 829-1900, ext. 242.

Commission Authorizes Major Capital Projects—New Span & Bearings Will Transmit Data to Engineers

The Burlington County Bridge Commissioners unanimously approved three major capital projects, two of which will incorporate “smart technology” into the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges. As a result of the Commission’s partnership with Drexel University, the bascule span on the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge will be equipped with electronic data sensors and the bearings on the Burlington-Bristol Bridge will not only be superior to those used in the original bridge construction, they will also have “load cells” inside that transmit data to Commission engineers, allowing for real-time monitoring. The third project is the replacement of operating ropes on the Burlington-Bristol Bridge.

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Chairman John B. Comegno II said, “This is the first time smart technology has been added to a construction project on a bridge over the Delaware River to allow for ‘health monitoring’ of the structures for the future—we’re extremely proud of that distinction.” He commended Commission staff and his predecessor Commissioners for a long history of unparalleled bridge maintenance including a proactive and extensive maintenance schedule. “Our historically significant bridges are taking bridge inspections and maintenance way beyond what was ever thought possible.”

David Lowdermilk, P.E., Vice President for Pennoni Associates, Inc., the resident engineers for the Burlington County Bridge Commission, added, “Smart technology allows us to base our maintenance program on actual, real-time performance of the structural members. It shows a ‘virtual signature’ of the bridge...it gives us a clear picture as to what is happening on the bridge at any time.”

On the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, the grid deck replacement on the bascule span (which is the part of the bridge that opens for ships to pass) will be a “smart grid.” This means that there will be sensors in the grid deck that will transmit data via computer to Bridge Commission engineers.

Similar technology will be integrated into the expansion bearings that will be replaced on the Burlington-Bristol Bridge. Drexel University Professor Dr. Frank Moon, who is a key participant in Drexel’s partnership with the Bridge Commission, has said that not only will these “smart” bearings last longer than regular bearings, he said the technology is so state-of-the-art, the only other bridges that have this technology are in California and Austria.

In addition, Commission and Drexel engineers are developing design models of both bridges. The purpose is to get data from load cells, which can then be incorporated back into those models so as to further fine-tune the structures. The Commission’s partnership with Drexel University was established to explore, recommend, and implement new technologies for monitoring and testing that could further enhance the Commission’s already rigorous monitoring, inspection, and repair program.

Commissioner Fletcher, Thanks for Your Service

At its December Commission meeting, Commissioner James E. Fletcher was recognized for his three years of service on the commission. Commissioner Fletcher was instrumental in ushering in a new era of transparency and accountability at the Bridge Commission. Among those in attendance were NJ Senator Phil Haines, former Freeholder Vince Farias, and Maple Shade Mayor Lou Manchello. Fletcher’s term expired on Oct. 22, but he will hold the post until a replacement is named.

Improvement Authority’s Active Agenda for 2009


The first meeting for 2009 of the Burlington County Bridge Commission’s Improvement Authority Shared Services Forum is scheduled for the evening of February 5 at the Emergency Services Training Center in Westampton. For February’s meeting the Forum is working with the Burlington County Office of Economic Development and Regional Planning to present a program on the fiscal and economic issues facing development and redevelopment projects. Towns interested in attending the February 5 meeting are asked to call Gary LaVenia at (856) 829-1900 for more information.

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The authority is slated to close on its latest bond– the second since November 2008 – in early 2009 and is planning its 2009 kickoff meeting, where local governments and entities can discuss their 2009 plans for borrowing funds from the authority. Towns interested in attending the kickoff meeting are asked to call Gary LaVenia at (856) 829-1900 for more information.

The authority reports that demand is increasing for its grant searching and proposal writing services and that it is currently preparing five full and four partial Council on Affordable Housing plans. Several other municipalities are considering asking the Improvement Authority to write their applications for the Board of Public Utility’s Government Energy Audit Program.

The Shared Services Forum’s 5th general membership meeting of 2008 was held earlier this month at the Maple Shade Municipal Complex. The meeting discussed legislative and fiscal issues anticipated for 2009. Presenters included Marc Pfeiffer, deputy director of the New Jersey Department of Community Affair’s Division of Local Government Services, and Helen Yeldell, senior legislative analyst for the New Jersey League of Municipalities.

Palmyra Cove Busy With Winter Events

Weekend family hikes and Saturday morning birding classes continue this winter at Palmyra Cove. Winter hikes are being held from December 3 through March 4. Hikes include orienteering and advanced orienteering, fox hikes, beaver pond hikes, and hikes that focus on animals in winter.

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The Cove’s Owl Prowl program has returned, thanks to public demand. The first Owl Prowl for the winter is scheduled for Tuesday, December 30 at 6 PM.

John Moore, a teacher of geospatial technologies and director of GLOBE at Burlington County Institute of Technology, brought twenty-two 9th through 12th grade students to the Cove on Wednesday, December 10. The focus of their trip to Palmyra Cove was “Studying Earth as a System.” During their three-hour visit they used Digital Lab equipment to electronically sample water and weather. Using hand-held digital equipment, students measured dissolved oxygen, temperature, water pH, air temperature, wind speed and humidity.

Following the students was a crew from New Jersey Network videotaping a segment of Classroom Close-up. The program will appear on NJN in March and April. Exact dates and times will be available on www.njn.net.

The Cove, which recently completed its Winterfest program and held its Christmas party for Foster Families of Burlington County, thanks the BCBC’s police and maintenance departments for their help to make each event a wonderful success.

Palmyra Cove’s An Evening of Dancing, a fund-raiser to benefit the Cove’s educational programs, brought out nearly 125 guests to support the Cove’s programs for 2009.

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