NO TOLL INCREASE on Tacony-Palmyra & Burlington-Bristol Bridges
Commission Introduces Flat Budget
For the tenth consecutive year, Burlington County Bridge Commissioners announced that there would be no toll increase on its two toll bridges. The Commission reaffirmed its commitment to an aggressive bridge maintenance program and pledged to continue its economic development and tax-saving efforts that have already saved Burlington County taxpayers more than $14 million dollars.
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“I’m pleased to say that we’re not raising tolls, the Commission’s budget will remain flat, and we will continue to keep the bridges safe and provide direct property tax relief for our residents,” said Bridge Commission Chairman John Comegno, who added that tolls have stayed the same since 2000.
Comegno credited Commission administration and staff for cutting costs and making sacrifices to make the budget a reality.
Commissioner Troy E. Singleton echoed the Chairman’s remarks, adding, “This is a financial break our toll payers need now more than ever. “And I’m pleased that our aggressive capital programs will continue to provide jobs for our citizens during these trying times.”
The Commission’s $40.5 million dollar capital budget continues the Commission’s commitment to maintain the integrity and safety of its bridges, and includes the repair to the damaged fender on the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, and the continuation of the Rancocas Creek Cleanup project, a shared service initiative between the Commission, the Board of Chosen Freeholders, and the municipalities of Lumberton, Southampton, and Medford.
Vice-Chairwoman Priscilla B. Anderson added, “Our tolls remain stable without compromising our outreach to County taxpayers, like the assistance the Commission is providing to help clear the Rancocas Creek to prevent future flooding.”
The Burlington County Bridge Commission manages the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges, and through its economic development and improvement authority powers, assists Burlington County municipalities in economic development and community revitalization projects and extends pooled financing options to local governments and nonprofits in Burlington County. These initiatives have resulted in a savings of approximately $14 million dollars and more than $9 million dollars in grant monies for municipalities.
Bridge Commission’s Latest Shared Service Brings Tactical Police Exercises to Tacony-Palmyra Bridge
An expo of area police demonstrated expert tactical maneuvers under, on, and atop the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge on July 13th, in a show not only of skill but also of the economic benefit and advantages to the community that come from sharing services among law enforcement. Seventy-five representatives from ten police units participated in a swift water rescue using boats and a helicopter and searched for bombs using a K-9 unit.
Today’s exercises are just one more creative way the Bridge Commission is saving taxpayer dollars while providing safe and affordable facilities and services,” said Commission Chairman John Comegno. “We provide the training ground, literally, for these activities that ultimately make our bridges even safer and more secure, and we benefit from law enforcement’s expert response in the event of a real threat. That’s something that we hope will never happen, but rest assured, we are committed to protecting our bridges and those who use them,” he added.
The event brings together law enforcement personnel from the Bridge Commission, bridge “host cities” Palmyra and Burlington City, as well as NJ State Police, Cherry Hill fire/rescue departments, Camden fire/rescue departments, Cinnaminson, Riverton, and Palmyra fire departments, and Burlington County’s Office of Emergency Management and Prosecutor’s Office. The mock activities staged on and under the bridge show how the separate entities can work together to protect the public should an actual threat or other emergency occur.
“Being able to train on a real structure such as the bridge, above a busy roadway in the midst of daily activity, gives our law enforcement an edge—it’s the best possible training scenario,” said Sgt. Chris DeMaise of the NJ State Police.
The Commission allows the law enforcement units to use its facilities, which include both the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges as well as shoreline access to the Delaware River, for training their tactical units and marine services. It also provides area law enforcement with investigative support by allowing access to video coverage of motorists passing through the Commission’s toll lanes.
The Commission also gets the first responders’ support—in the event of an incident, those entities will quickly mobilize and report to assist the Commission police as needed. While Commission police are trained to secure the bridge and alert any breach in safety or homeland security, partnering law enforcement assist the Commission with services like marine services, police aviation, bomb-detection, K9 services, tactical maneuvers, and Homeland Security.
“Sharing services in this way allows the Commission and its partners to get what they need, all with significant cost savings,” added Vice Chairperson Priscilla B. Anderson. “It also results in the best of the best responding to the needs of the public.”
“This is a huge advantage in preparation for any type of incident that could impact our public on the bridges. This unique training provides a realistic application of skills and assets which support the safety of our motoring public,” added Patrick Reilly, Director of the Bridge Commission’s Police Department.
The Burlington County Bridge Commission manages the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges, and through its economic development and improvement authority powers, assists Burlington County municipalities in economic development and community revitalization projects and extends pooled financing options to local governments and nonprofits in Burlington County. These initiatives have resulted in a savings of approximately $14 million dollars.
Commission Takes on Economic Development & Regional Planning Responsibilities
On June 15th, the Bridge Commission furthered its commitment to shared services and consolidation by formally assuming the County’s economic development and regional planning functions. “Once again, the Freeholders and the Commission are ‘out in front’ of eliminating duplication of services and saving taxpayers money,” said Commission Chairman John Comegno.
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The Bridge Commission will assist municipalities and the private sector to implement plans to foster economic development through marketing and business development, technical assistance, and administering private sector loan programs such as the County’s small business loan program. In addition, the Commission will help municipalities plan for growth, development, and preservation through regional planning, community planning, and management and analysis of information (mapping, cartography).
Contacts for economic development and regional planning staff remain the same, as does the physical address (50 Rancocas Road, Mt. Holly).
Sojourners Find Rest at PCNP
Twenty-three campers from four municipalities and two counties are participating in PCNP’s popular summer camp program. Word must be out that PCNP Naturalist Kristina Merola designs the camp with great attention to detail, focusing each day’s activities on a different environmental theme. Campers’ grade levels range from three through six.
Palmyra Cove Nature Park hosted an outstanding Delaware River Sojourn the weekend of June 25th. Thirty paddlers, who camped on PCNP grounds for two nights, were joined in the mornings by additional “day tripper” paddlers. This year’s Sojourn drew more participants than in the past seven years PCNP has participated in this event. The Bridge Commission maintenance department allowed the use of their showers while the Commission police department took care to keep the guests safe and sound.
Summer Camp—Our Busiest Yet!
Don’t Miss…Delaware River Family Hike
Grab the kids and explore PCNP’s shore to see how birds and other animals use this unique habitat. Held Saturday, August 7th, from 9:00 to 11:00 AM, this hike will show you why PCNP is the migratory bird hotspot it is! You’ll learn about the natural history and human use of the Delaware River. Reservations required; call 856-829-1900, ext. 264. FREE to members or $5/person and $15/family if nonmembers.