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Public Information » Press Releases » Press Release Archive

Press Release Archive

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Press Release Archive

 11/9/10 Comegno Reappointed Bridge Commission Chairman
Vows to Continue Shared Services and Tax Relief Initiatives
10/14/10
9/14/10
8/12/10
7/13/10
7/13/10
6/8/10
5/13/10
4/13/10
3/9/10
2/9/10
1/12/10
12/8/09
11/9/09

Comegno Reappointed Bridge Commission Chairman 
Vows to Continue Shared Services and Tax Relief Initiatives

10/14/09
10/5/09

Rancocas Creek Clearing Moves on to Lumberton
Local and County Officials Kick Off Phase Two Of Debris Removal Project

9/9/09
9/9/09
9/9/09

“Greenbacks to go Green”
Bridge Commission To Lend Funds for Local Energy Audits and Projects

8/27/09
8/14/09
8/11/09
7/22/09
6/12/09
5/12/09

Commission’s Grant Assistance Secures $5 Million for Burlco Municipalities
Burlco Agency Continues Tax-Saving Measures
 

4/22/09
Commission Forges Ahead with Rancocas Creek Clean-up
Joint Effort of Freeholders and Commission Prevents Future Flooding
3/10/09
1/13/09
1/13/09
12/16/08
11/17/08
10/21/08

Tapping In-house Talent Saves Commission Millions
Commission Supports Freeholder Economic Recovery Program

9/15/08
8/18/08
8/1/08
7/22/008
7/16/08
6/17/08

Bridge Commission Awards Contract for Rancocas Creek Clean-Up 
County & Commission Combine Resources to Fight Flooding

5/20/08
No Toll Increase for Tacony-Palmyra & Burlington-Bristol Bridges
Bridge Commission Bridges Still “The Best Bargain Around”
5/1/08
4/15/08
3/19/08
3/10/08
2/29/08
2/20/08
1/15/08
12/18/07
11/28/07
11/19/07
10/18/07
10/17/07
10/12/07
9/26/07
8/21/07
8/7/07
8/3/07
7/27/07
7/25/07
6/19/07
6/1/07
5/23/07
5/16/07
5/14/07
4/20/07
4/12/07
FOR RELEASE 11/9/10

Comegno Reappointed Bridge Commission Chairman
Vows to Continue Shared Services and Tax Relief Initiatives

Palmyra— At its November 9th reorganization meeting, John Comegno was re-elected Chairman by fellow Burlington County Bridge Commissioners Priscilla Anderson and Troy Singleton. Comegno reaffirmed his commitment to safe, affordable bridges and tax relief for Burlington County residents. Priscilla B. Anderson was also re-elected to the position of Vice-Chairwoman.

“I’m proud to say that through this struggling economy, we’ve held the line on tolls,” said Chairman Comegno, “all while leveraging our resources for bridge improvements and innovations and leading the county in shared service initiatives like the Rancocas Creek cleanup which is saving Burlington County taxpayers millions of dollars.” 

The Commission also adopted its annual notice of meetings, which includes evening meetings to make them more accessible to the public. Comegno also vowed to continue popular “on the road” meetings, which has brought Commission meetings to locations throughout the county.

Commissioners also affirmed their commitment to finding new and better ways to help the taxpayers of Burlington County, whether through the economic development department recently transferred from the county or through programs like its “Greenbacks to go Green” energy program.

“We want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem,” said Vice-Chairwoman Anderson. “Not raising tolls is a good start. But providing tax relief through our economic development programs will go a long way toward helping people get back on their feet financially.”

Commissioner Singleton added that the Commission should continue its efforts to be involved in programs that put residents to work. “That’s one of my priorities—and a goal that so many of our hard-working citizens want to see made a reality.”

“Through our tax-saving initiatives, we’ve saved Burlington County residents $14 million dollars — that’s a success story I want to keep writing,” Comegno added. “And as Chairman of the Bridge Commission, I plan to do just that.” 

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.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417- 4088

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FOR RELEASE 10/14/10

Bridge Commission’s “Learning Bridge” Named Harvard University’s “Bright Idea”
Competitive Program Recognizes Innovative Government Programs

Palmyra—Burlington County Bridge Commission Chairman John Comegno announced today that the Commission’s “Learning Bridge” was selected among 600 applications for the Bright Ideas program administered by Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The unprecedented, cutting-edge educational initiative that transformed the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge into the first “living laboratory” for engineering students from local colleges was one of only three “Bright Ideas” recipients in New Jersey.

“The ‘Learning Bridge’ concept was already a winner,” said Comegno, “but for a leading educational institution like Harvard to recognize it as a promising government program and partnership—that’s smart technology on so many levels.” He credited his fellow Commissioners, Pennoni Associates (the Commission’s resident engineer) and Drexel University with supporting and developing the initiative, which has enhanced the safety and improved the Commission’s historically significant bridges.

Bright Ideas, a complement to the long-standing Innovations in American Government Awards Program, is designed to recognize and share creative government initiatives around the country with interested public sector, nonprofit, and academic communities, providing government agencies with a collection of new solutions that can be considered and adopted quickly.

The Learning Bridge fit the Bright Ideas concept because it challenges the way engineers are trained by observing and monitoring how active bridges are designed, operated, and managed over their lifecycles. It also explores how to use technology to transform real structures into living laboratories and project them into the classroom.

“As a former educator, I’m gratified that this initiative was named a ‘Bright Idea’, but the real winners are the students who have an opportunity for hands-on experiences on our bridges and the motorists who use our safe and affordable bridges every day,” said Commissioner Priscilla Anderson.

“I am excited that we’re part of pioneering a new way to teach engineering studies,” Commissioner Troy E. Singleton added. “The Bridge Commission can literally change the way engineers learn while it reaps direct benefits from their real-time studies.”

As a member of the inaugural group of Bright Ideas, the Commission will join those winners whose programs will serve as a cornerstone of a new online community where innovative ideas are proposed, shared, and disseminated.

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.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417- 4088

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FOR RELEASE 9/14/10

Commission Adopts Flat Budget
Tenth Consecutive Year with NO TOLL INCREASE on Tacony-Palmyra & Burlington-Bristol Bridges

Palmyra— Burlington County Bridge Commissioners John Comegno, Priscilla Anderson, and Troy Singleton voted today to adopt the Commission’s 2011 Annual Budget and Capital Budget Program, which was approved by the State of New Jersey, and includes no toll increase on its two toll bridges. The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ Division of Local Government Services made no changes to the Commission’s budget and approved the budget as submitted. 

“No toll increase and a flat budget are direct results of Commission administration and staff cutting costs and making sacrifices,” said Bridge Commission Chairman John Comegno, “all without compromising our commitment to safe bridges and providing direct property tax relief for our residents.”

Commissioner Troy E. Singleton added, “The Commission’s budget reflects not only an investment in our bridges, but also in the people that will make up the workforce maintaining these structures.”

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.

“It’s no surprise to me that the Commission with the bridges known to be ‘the best bargain around’ is also making the most of its tollpayer dollars,” Comegno added.

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.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417- 4088

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FOR RELEASE 8/12/10

Bridge Commission Outlines $14 Million in Bridge Improvements
Pushes Forward on Capital Program

Palmyra, NJ – The Burlington County Bridge Commission is investing more than $14 million dollars this year in five maintenance projects to improve its landmark Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges. Commissioners John Comegno, Priscilla Anderson, and Troy Singleton provided an update the Commission’s meeting tonight on construction projects in progress that will incorporate smart technology, enhance security measures, and revitalize the Commission’s two movable spans.  

“We believe our bridge maintenance program is second to none,” said Comegno. “That’s because my fellow Commissioners and I are committed to providing safe and affordable passage over our bridges, and it’s a proactive, carefully designed plan of aggressive bridge inspection and maintenance that makes that happen. All with no toll increase.”

Four active construction projects are on the Burlington-Bristol Bridge:

  • Bearing Replacement (replacing nearly 80-year-old steel rocker bearings with state-of-the-art neoprene bearings, under which load cells will be inserted; load cells will provide actual live readings of loading on piers)
  • Operating Ropes Replacement (routine replacement of the 16 steel cables that lift the span during bridge openings and stretch under the weight of the bridge)
  • Counterweight Rope Testing (testing the 64 counterweight ropes, which carry the counterweights that help balance the tremendous weight of the lift span and are lowered on each side of the bridge as the lift span raises)
  • Cross Beam/Stringer Connections (proactively replacing welded connections with bolted connections on the primary support for the deck system on the New Jersey approach)

On the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, the grid deck is being replaced and gauges will be built into the deck to monitor movement of the bascule span during bridge openings. 

“These projects are about more than steel and other materials,” said Commissioner Troy E. Singleton. “They’re about the 100 people who will be put to work as a result.”

The Commissioners also noted that a security and communications upgrade between the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges is slated to begin in the Fall. This will allow for more advanced video and data communications between the two bridges and provide highly sophisticated, three- dimensional models of the two spans from which engineers can monitor actual bridge conditions.

“I continue to be amazed, even impressed, by the constant improvements made to our bridges and facilities,” remarked Vice Chairwoman Anderson. “We are continually raising the standards of excellent bridge operations and maintenance.”

Projects currently in design include the Pompeston Creek Bridge replacement, Riverside-Delanco Bridge deck replacement, a new Commission maintenance facility in Burlington, as well as four projects on the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge and four projects on the Burlington-Bristol Bridge.

The Commission also intends to replace the fenders surrounding piers of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, which were damaged seven years ago and were the focus of a multi-year court battle with Lloyd’s of London, which ultimately resulted in a $10.9 million reimbursement to the Commission.

“The investment we’re making in smart technology on our bridges will pay dividends in bridge renewal and preservation,” said Comegno. “It’s more than an interesting concept — it’s fiscally responsible.”

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.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417- 4088

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FOR RELEASE 7/13/10

NO TOLL INCREASE on Tacony-Palmyra & Burlington-Bristol Bridges
Commission Introduces Flat Budget

Palmyra— 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.

“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.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417 -4088

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FOR RELEASE 7/13/10

Bridge Commission’s Latest Shared Service Brings Tactical Police Exercises to Tacony-Palmyra Bridge

Palmyra—An expo of area police demonstrated expert tactical maneuvers under, on, and atop the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge today, 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.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417- 4088

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FOR RELEASE 6/8/10

Bridge Commission Facilities to Undergo Energy Audits
Then Offer Same Service to Municipalities as Shared Service

Palmyra— Bridge Commissioners voted today to have Commission facilities undergo a comprehensive energy audit that will identify areas for energy and cost savings and lay the groundwork for the shared service the Bridge Commission will offer to Burlington County municipalities and schools. The Commission will sponsor energy audits of town and school buildings, and then apply on the entity’s behalf for funding from New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU).

“The Commission is making use of a valuable state program that has the potential of helping every town in Burlington County become more energy-efficient,” said Commission Chairman John Comegno. “And by auditing our own buildings first, we’ll be in the best position to assist municipalities. We can share our expertise, tell what worked for us, and most importantly, show the cost savings they can pass on to the taxpayers.”

The Commission’s shared service will provide the upfront payment for the energy audit that many municipalities and schools are unable to afford and will then navigate the application process for the NJBPU’s Local Government Energy Audit program.  The state program provides reimbursement of the costs of the energy audit, given that at least 25% of the recommendations have been implemented.

“Towns can not only measure their energy consumption but also do something about it, all to the fiscal benefit of their residents,” said Vice Chairperson Priscilla B. Anderson. “As a former Mayor, I can really appreciate the value of this shared service.”

The energy audit will identify areas within Commission facilities where energy-saving, cost-justified measures could be applied. Examples range from replacing existing light bulbs with LED or compact fluorescent light bulbs, to replacing existing heating and cooling systems with geothermal ones, which use the Earth’s natural thermal energy to heat or cool a building.

After the Commission’s audit is complete and recommendations implemented, it will evaluate the process and offer constructive feedback to municipalities interested in auditing their own facilities.

“Ultimately, this is about saving taxpayer dollars, but these energy audits will also protect our environment, conserve energy, and create jobs,” Commissioner Troy E. Singleton added. 

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. The Commission’s grantwriting services have resulted in 22 municipalities receiving a total of more than $6.7 Million in funding, all at no cost to the taxpayers.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417- 4088

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FOR RELEASE 5/13/10

Commission Authorizes Assumption of  County Economic Development Functions
Public Can Expect Seamless Transition, Uninterrupted Service

Palmyra, NJ –  At today’s meeting, Bridge Commissioners John Comegno, Priscilla Anderson and Troy Singleton took action to further the Commission’s commitment to shared services and consolidation by formally agreeing to assume the County’s economic development and regional planning functions.

“The joint initiative that we take with the Freeholders today is one that will impact virtually every taxpayer in Burlington County,” said Chairman Comegno. “Once again, the Freeholders and the Commission are ‘out in front’ of eliminating duplication of services and saving taxpayers money.” 

Comegno applauded Commission staff for their work over the past several months with County representatives in hammering out the details of the changeover and creating a mutually agreeable transition plan. This was a result of the Commissioners’ direction that staff take all necessary actions to effectuate the orderly and efficient assumption of the County’s economic development and regional planning responsibilities as soon as possible.

The real goal, Comegno said, is to ensure that the public is provided with uninterrupted service: “We want a transition so seamless that the public sees no gap in service.”

Through its current economic development and improvement authority powers, the Bridge Commission 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 alone have resulted in a savings of approximately $14 million dollars and more than $9 million dollars in grant monies for municipalities.

The new functions the Bridge Commission will assume include assisting municipalities and the private sector to implement plans to foster economic development, including:

  • marketing and business development,
  • technical assistance,
  • assisting the Workforce Investment Board in planning and executing strateges for workforce development in the county, and
  • administering private sector loan programs such as the County’s small business loan program.

The Commission will also assume the County’s current responsibilities of regional planning, which includes helping municipalities plan for growth, development, and preservation. Specifically, the Bridge Commission will assist municipalities with:

  • regional planning and coordination initiatives
  • community and municipal planning and coordination (e.g, local planning initiatives, preparation of master plans and housing plans)
  • analysis of information like demographics, economic and statistics
  • cartography and mapping

 

The Commission will also assist the Burlington County Office of Community Development with strategic planning and help the US Bureau of Census with data gathering.

“Assuming Burlington County’s economic development functions better positions the Commission to address economic growth issues, serve the towns and business community, and helps our taxpayers find jobs in this struggling economy,” said Commissioner Troy E. Singleton. 

Vice Chairwoman Priscilla B. Anderson praised the move: “This change is certainly in the best interests of the Burlington County taxpayers. It’s an effort to avoid duplicating services and to work together with the Freeholders for the good of the County. It’s just good business.” 

The Burlington County Bridge Commission also manages the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417- 4088

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FOR RELEASE 4/13/10

Commission Adopts New Reform Policies
Agency’s Bi-partisan Support for Further Reforms in Sync with Governor’s Reform Plan

Palmyra, NJ – Bridge Commission Chairman John Comegno announced today that he and Commissioners Priscilla Anderson and Troy Singleton plan to enact further reforms consistent with Governor Christie’s calls for increased public accountability and the report issued by the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation (SCI) late last year, both of which called for an end to wasteful and excessive spending at independent authorities and commissions.  In that effort, the Commissioners instructed that certain Commission policies that are inconsistent with SCI recommendations and the Governor’s Executive Order #15 be changed immediately and become effective today.

“As soon as the SCI report came out, I ordered staff to analyze Commission policies and procedures and we immediately took action,” said Comegno. “We’ve become a leader in self-scrutiny and reforming our own agency—these new steps further the Commission’s commitment to being a model agency.” 

Former State Attorney General and current SCI Chairman W. Cary Edwards, who was instrumental in guiding the agency’s self-directed reforms, praised the Commission’s next phase of reforms, not only for their content, but also for adopting new policies in advance of any directive or imposed legislation. “The Bridge Commission is setting an example that other agencies should follow—this Commission continues to, in a bi-partisan way, set the bar high for governmental organizations at all levels. That’s exactly what the SCI Report was hoping to achieve---effective and meaningful reform.”

Specifically, the Commission’s newly enacted policies:

  • prohibit payment for accumulated sick and vacation time on a yearly basis,
  • limit payment for accumulated sick and vacation time upon retirement, 
  • limit compensatory time to non-executive employees and only then with stringent limitations, including prior approval,
  • reduce the maximum earned annual vacation time and limit vacation time carryover,
  • decrease the number of paid holidays and eliminate non-traditional days off,
  • prohibit awarding of “terminal leave” which allows employees to stay on the payroll while accruing sick/vacation time at full salary and benefits,

Commissioner Troy Singleton said, “I stand, in a bi-partisan fashion, with my fellow Commissioners, and know that these reforms take us to the next level of accountability.” 

These actions follow the Commissioners’ decision one month ago to give up the salaries and benefits they received as Bridge Commissioners in response to Governor Christie’s Executive Order #15, in which he called on independent State authorities, boards, and commissions to employ the same safeguards that are standard practices in state government, which included analyzing whether or not board members should be compensated for their service.

 

“The Governor is making tough decisions and taking bold actions in our state, and we all have a choice to either be part of the problem or part of the solution,” said Vice-Chairwoman Priscilla Anderson. “The Bridge Commission is determined to be part of the solution.”

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.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417- 4088

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FOR RELEASE 3/9/10

Bridge Commissioners Forego Salary & Benefits
Agency Measures up to Governor’s Reform Plan

Palmyra, NJ – Burlington County Bridge Commissioners John Comegno, Priscilla Anderson, and Troy Singleton voted unanimously today to give up salaries and benefits they receive as Bridge Commissioners. Comegno also highlighted that the Bridge Commission is already compliant with Governor Christie’s Executive Order #15, in which Christie called on independent State authorities, boards, and commissions to employ the same safeguards that are standard practices in state government.

“I applaud the Governor’s actions during this time of unprecedented economic crisis,” said Comegno, adding that “the severity of these economic times calls for extraordinary measures. That’s why my fellow Commissioners and I have agreed to forego pay and benefits, a sacrifice never before made at the Bridge Commission.”

Vice-Chairwoman Priscilla Anderson said, “I support my fellow Commissioners in relinquishing the salary and benefits we get through the Commission. However, because I have made prior financial commitments for my family based on this income for this year, I have asked, and my fellow Commissioners have agreed, to allow me to continue to be paid through the end of my current term.”

Comegno also stated that the actions outlined in the Governor’s Executive Order are in sync with the reforms the Commission put in place over the past three years. “The Commission has been out front on the topic of reform, dealing with the very issues the Governor outlines in his Executive Order.”

Specifically, Comegno noted that, at his and his fellow Commissioners’ direction:

  • the Commission has no contracts with lobbyists,
  • all travel requests must be approved by the Commissioners, and must be reasonable and directly related to the employee’s duties with the Commission,
  • the Commission has no employment contracts with “golden parachutes.”

“I’m pleased to say that the Commission’s budgets have remained flat, tolls have stayed the same since 2000, and we continue to keep the bridges safe and provide direct property tax relief and create jobs for our residents,” said Commissioner Singleton. “I also want to stress that this is not an interim step for the Commission. I strongly encourage that these steps be made permanent by whatever means possible.”

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.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417- 4088

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FOR RELEASE 2/9/10

Bridge Commission Unveils 2010 Capital Program
Tacony-Palmyra Bridge to Get New Grid Deck

Palmyra, NJ –  Burlington County Bridge Commissioners John Comegno, Priscilla Anderson, and Troy Singleton rolled out the Commission’s 2010 Capital Program for its historic landmark bridges, which will include the Commission’s largest project since 1995. The Commission announced today that it will completely replace the grid deck on the moveable span of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge and will install “smart” gauges on the deck to monitor the closing of the moveable bascule span after bridge openings for marine traffic on the Delaware.

The Bridge Commission's 2010 Capital Program includes replacement of the Tacony-Palmyra's bascule span; the grid deck of that span is shown here.

“More than a million pounds of steel deck will be replaced,” said Comegno. “We’re not only replacing the entire floor of the lift span to make the bridge safer, but also enhancing the structural steel supports under the deck and incorporating smart technology that will electronically guide our bridge openings and closings. All done with no toll increase.”

The new deck, which will replace some pieces which are 60 years old, will make the bridge safer by improving traction on the riding surface and will further enhance the structural integrity of the bridge. A total of 126 pieces will be installed and more than a half-mile of welds will connect the 500 tons of steel deck during this project, which also includes painting of the bascule span.

“This is clearly a challenging project from a contractor’s perspective,” added Commissioner Troy E. Singleton, who also noted that the job will put more than 30 people to work for a two-month period.

The project will be completed in overnight hours to minimize commuter disruption. Within eight-hour time frames, contractors will remove the existing grid deck panels, repair or replace the supports under the deck, weld a new section of grid deck (some weighing up to 10 tons) into place, and balance the span for proper closure after openings for marine traffic. 

“The $7 million project is expected to provide a safe, moveable structure on the bridge for the next 40 to 50 years,” said David Lowdermilk, Vice President of Pennoni Associates, the Commission’s project engineer.

Other 2010 capital projects outlined by the Commission include the installation of state of the art bearings (which will incorporate smart technology) on the Burlington-Bristol Bridge and replacement of the steel operating ropes which raise and lower the Burlington-Bristol Bridge to accommodate marine traffic.

Comegno also reiterated the Commission’s commitment to finishing the cleanup of debris in the Rancocas Creek which has caused flooding and ravaged towns with damages exceeding $25 million dollars.

“Our staff and the professionals at Pennoni deserve much credit for all the work they do to keep our bridges safe and affordable,” said Vice Chairwoman Priscilla B. Anderson.

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.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417- 4088

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FOR RELEASE 1/12/10

Newly Reappointed Commission Chairman Presents "State of the Bridge" 
Highlights 2009 Successes

Palmyra, NJ –  Less than one week after the Burlington County Freeholders reappointed him to the Burlington County Bridge Commission, Chairman John Comegno provided a “State of the Bridge,” highlighting property tax-saving initiatives, innovative capital projects to its bridges, the Commission and Freeholders’ joint efforts to clean up the Rancocas Creek, and “green” shared services programs. “2009 was a milestone year for the Bridge Commission,” said Comegno. “We broke the $9 Million mark in obtaining grants for cash-strapped municipalities, held the line once again on tolls, and surpassed $14 Million in debt relief for taxpayers struggling to make ends meet.”

 

Comegno outlined the Commission’s major achievements for the year:

  • Secured more than $8 Million in Grant Monies for Municipalities this year alone: $9.3 Million obtained since 2006, resulting in direct property tax relief for BurlCo citizens,
  • Surpassed $14 Million in Property Tax Relief for Municipalities: Commission financing programs continue to save taxpayers money ($382 Million in financings since 2002),
  • Won $10.9 Million Insurance Claim:  bridge piers to be repaired with reimbursement claim from Lloyd’s of London,
  • No Toll Increase: for tenth consecutive year,
  • Rancocas Creek cleanup:  Completed Phase 2 of Commission/County initiative to clean creek that ravaged towns with damages exceeding $25 million—all at no cost to municipalities, 
  • Revolutionized bridge inspections: new “traveler system” on Burlington-Bristol Bridge that will slash costs, enhance safety, and reduce traffic delays,
  • “Greenbacks to Go Green” Program: upfront funding for municipalities and schools for cost-saving energy audits,
  • Smart technology” with Drexel University: “smart bearings” on Burlington-Bristol Bridge,
  • New Financial Management System:  increased efficiency of accounting and purchasing operations,
  • “The only status quo you’ll find at the Bridge Commission is in our tolls,” said Vice Chairwoman Priscilla B. Anderson. “Otherwise, the leadership and staff are constantly setting new goals, reaching higher, and achieving more.”
  • Commissioner Troy E. Singleton added, “During my first year as Commissioner, I learned a lot about the Commission and the quality people who work here. I look forward to working with my fellow Commissioners and staff this year to continue to save our taxpayers money and create jobs.”

Chairman Comegno added, “We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, but have much more work ahead of us. We will continue to keep our bridges safe and affordable and assist our neighboring towns through our economic development and shared services programs.”

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.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088

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FOR RELEASE 11/9/10

Comegno Reappointed Bridge Commission Chairman
Vows to Continue Shared Services and Tax Relief Initiatives

Palmyra— At its November 9th reorganization meeting, John Comegno was re-elected Chairman by fellow Burlington County Bridge Commissioners Priscilla Anderson and Troy Singleton. Comegno reaffirmed his commitment to safe, affordable bridges and tax relief for Burlington County residents. Priscilla B. Anderson was also re-elected to the position of Vice-Chairwoman.

“I’m proud to say that through this struggling economy, we’ve held the line on tolls,” said Chairman Comegno, “all while leveraging our resources for bridge improvements and innovations and leading the county in shared service initiatives like the Rancocas Creek cleanup which is saving Burlington County taxpayers millions of dollars.” 

The Commission also adopted its annual notice of meetings, which includes evening meetings to make them more accessible to the public. Comegno also vowed to continue popular “on the road” meetings, which has brought Commission meetings to locations throughout the county.

Commissioners also affirmed their commitment to finding new and better ways to help the taxpayers of Burlington County, whether through the economic development department recently transferred from the county or through programs like its “Greenbacks to go Green” energy program.

“We want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem,” said Vice-Chairwoman Anderson. “Not raising tolls is a good start. But providing tax relief through our economic development programs will go a long way toward helping people get back on their feet financially.”

Commissioner Singleton added that the Commission should continue its efforts to be involved in programs that put residents to work. “That’s one of my priorities—and a goal that so many of our hard-working citizens want to see made a reality.”

“Through our tax-saving initiatives, we’ve saved Burlington County residents $14 million dollars — that’s a success story I want to keep writing,” Comegno added. “And as Chairman of the Bridge Commission, I plan to do just that.” 

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.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417- 4088

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FOR RELEASE 10/14/10

Bridge Commission’s “Learning Bridge” Named Harvard University’s “Bright Idea”
Competitive Program Recognizes Innovative Government Programs

Palmyra—Burlington County Bridge Commission Chairman John Comegno announced today that the Commission’s “Learning Bridge” was selected among 600 applications for the Bright Ideas program administered by Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. The unprecedented, cutting-edge educational initiative that transformed the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge into the first “living laboratory” for engineering students from local colleges was one of only three “Bright Ideas” recipients in New Jersey.

“The ‘Learning Bridge’ concept was already a winner,” said Comegno, “but for a leading educational institution like Harvard to recognize it as a promising government program and partnership—that’s smart technology on so many levels.” He credited his fellow Commissioners, Pennoni Associates (the Commission’s resident engineer) and Drexel University with supporting and developing the initiative, which has enhanced the safety and improved the Commission’s historically significant bridges.

Bright Ideas, a complement to the long-standing Innovations in American Government Awards Program, is designed to recognize and share creative government initiatives around the country with interested public sector, nonprofit, and academic communities, providing government agencies with a collection of new solutions that can be considered and adopted quickly.

The Learning Bridge fit the Bright Ideas concept because it challenges the way engineers are trained by observing and monitoring how active bridges are designed, operated, and managed over their lifecycles. It also explores how to use technology to transform real structures into living laboratories and project them into the classroom.

“As a former educator, I’m gratified that this initiative was named a ‘Bright Idea’, but the real winners are the students who have an opportunity for hands-on experiences on our bridges and the motorists who use our safe and affordable bridges every day,” said Commissioner Priscilla Anderson.

“I am excited that we’re part of pioneering a new way to teach engineering studies,” Commissioner Troy E. Singleton added. “The Bridge Commission can literally change the way engineers learn while it reaps direct benefits from their real-time studies.”

As a member of the inaugural group of Bright Ideas, the Commission will join those winners whose programs will serve as a cornerstone of a new online community where innovative ideas are proposed, shared, and disseminated.

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.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417- 4088

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FOR RELEASE 9/14/10

Commission Adopts Flat Budget
Tenth Consecutive Year with NO TOLL INCREASE on Tacony-Palmyra & Burlington-Bristol Bridges

Palmyra— Burlington County Bridge Commissioners John Comegno, Priscilla Anderson, and Troy Singleton voted today to adopt the Commission’s 2011 Annual Budget and Capital Budget Program, which was approved by the State of New Jersey, and includes no toll increase on its two toll bridges. The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ Division of Local Government Services made no changes to the Commission’s budget and approved the budget as submitted. 

“No toll increase and a flat budget are direct results of Commission administration and staff cutting costs and making sacrifices,” said Bridge Commission Chairman John Comegno, “all without compromising our commitment to safe bridges and providing direct property tax relief for our residents.”

Commissioner Troy E. Singleton added, “The Commission’s budget reflects not only an investment in our bridges, but also in the people that will make up the workforce maintaining these structures.”

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.

“It’s no surprise to me that the Commission with the bridges known to be ‘the best bargain around’ is also making the most of its tollpayer dollars,” Comegno added.

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.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417- 4088

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FOR RELEASE 8/12/10

Bridge Commission Outlines $14 Million in Bridge Improvements
Pushes Forward on Capital Program

Palmyra, NJ – The Burlington County Bridge Commission is investing more than $14 million dollars this year in five maintenance projects to improve its landmark Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges. Commissioners John Comegno, Priscilla Anderson, and Troy Singleton provided an update the Commission’s meeting tonight on construction projects in progress that will incorporate smart technology, enhance security measures, and revitalize the Commission’s two movable spans.  

“We believe our bridge maintenance program is second to none,” said Comegno. “That’s because my fellow Commissioners and I are committed to providing safe and affordable passage over our bridges, and it’s a proactive, carefully designed plan of aggressive bridge inspection and maintenance that makes that happen. All with no toll increase.”

Four active construction projects are on the Burlington-Bristol Bridge:

  • Bearing Replacement (replacing nearly 80-year-old steel rocker bearings with state-of-the-art neoprene bearings, under which load cells will be inserted; load cells will provide actual live readings of loading on piers)
  • Operating Ropes Replacement (routine replacement of the 16 steel cables that lift the span during bridge openings and stretch under the weight of the bridge)
  • Counterweight Rope Testing (testing the 64 counterweight ropes, which carry the counterweights that help balance the tremendous weight of the lift span and are lowered on each side of the bridge as the lift span raises)
  • Cross Beam/Stringer Connections (proactively replacing welded connections with bolted connections on the primary support for the deck system on the New Jersey approach)

On the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, the grid deck is being replaced and gauges will be built into the deck to monitor movement of the bascule span during bridge openings. 

“These projects are about more than steel and other materials,” said Commissioner Troy E. Singleton. “They’re about the 100 people who will be put to work as a result.”

The Commissioners also noted that a security and communications upgrade between the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges is slated to begin in the Fall. This will allow for more advanced video and data communications between the two bridges and provide highly sophisticated, three- dimensional models of the two spans from which engineers can monitor actual bridge conditions.

“I continue to be amazed, even impressed, by the constant improvements made to our bridges and facilities,” remarked Vice Chairwoman Anderson. “We are continually raising the standards of excellent bridge operations and maintenance.”

Projects currently in design include the Pompeston Creek Bridge replacement, Riverside-Delanco Bridge deck replacement, a new Commission maintenance facility in Burlington, as well as four projects on the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge and four projects on the Burlington-Bristol Bridge.

The Commission also intends to replace the fenders surrounding piers of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, which were damaged seven years ago and were the focus of a multi-year court battle with Lloyd’s of London, which ultimately resulted in a $10.9 million reimbursement to the Commission.

“The investment we’re making in smart technology on our bridges will pay dividends in bridge renewal and preservation,” said Comegno. “It’s more than an interesting concept — it’s fiscally responsible.”

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.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417- 4088

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FOR RELEASE 7/13/10

NO TOLL INCREASE on Tacony-Palmyra & Burlington-Bristol Bridges
Commission Introduces Flat Budget

Palmyra— 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.

“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.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417 -4088

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FOR RELEASE 7/13/10

Bridge Commission’s Latest Shared Service Brings Tactical Police Exercises to Tacony-Palmyra Bridge

Palmyra—An expo of area police demonstrated expert tactical maneuvers under, on, and atop the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge today, 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.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417- 4088

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FOR RELEASE 6/8/10

Bridge Commission Facilities to Undergo Energy Audits
Then Offer Same Service to Municipalities as Shared Service

Palmyra— Bridge Commissioners voted today to have Commission facilities undergo a comprehensive energy audit that will identify areas for energy and cost savings and lay the groundwork for the shared service the Bridge Commission will offer to Burlington County municipalities and schools. The Commission will sponsor energy audits of town and school buildings, and then apply on the entity’s behalf for funding from New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU).

“The Commission is making use of a valuable state program that has the potential of helping every town in Burlington County become more energy-efficient,” said Commission Chairman John Comegno. “And by auditing our own buildings first, we’ll be in the best position to assist municipalities. We can share our expertise, tell what worked for us, and most importantly, show the cost savings they can pass on to the taxpayers.”

The Commission’s shared service will provide the upfront payment for the energy audit that many municipalities and schools are unable to afford and will then navigate the application process for the NJBPU’s Local Government Energy Audit program.  The state program provides reimbursement of the costs of the energy audit, given that at least 25% of the recommendations have been implemented.

“Towns can not only measure their energy consumption but also do something about it, all to the fiscal benefit of their residents,” said Vice Chairperson Priscilla B. Anderson. “As a former Mayor, I can really appreciate the value of this shared service.”

The energy audit will identify areas within Commission facilities where energy-saving, cost-justified measures could be applied. Examples range from replacing existing light bulbs with LED or compact fluorescent light bulbs, to replacing existing heating and cooling systems with geothermal ones, which use the Earth’s natural thermal energy to heat or cool a building.

After the Commission’s audit is complete and recommendations implemented, it will evaluate the process and offer constructive feedback to municipalities interested in auditing their own facilities.

“Ultimately, this is about saving taxpayer dollars, but these energy audits will also protect our environment, conserve energy, and create jobs,” Commissioner Troy E. Singleton added. 

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. The Commission’s grantwriting services have resulted in 22 municipalities receiving a total of more than $6.7 Million in funding, all at no cost to the taxpayers.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417- 4088

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FOR RELEASE 5/13/10

Commission Authorizes Assumption of  County Economic Development Functions
Public Can Expect Seamless Transition, Uninterrupted Service

Palmyra, NJ –  At today’s meeting, Bridge Commissioners John Comegno, Priscilla Anderson and Troy Singleton took action to further the Commission’s commitment to shared services and consolidation by formally agreeing to assume the County’s economic development and regional planning functions.

“The joint initiative that we take with the Freeholders today is one that will impact virtually every taxpayer in Burlington County,” said Chairman Comegno. “Once again, the Freeholders and the Commission are ‘out in front’ of eliminating duplication of services and saving taxpayers money.” 

Comegno applauded Commission staff for their work over the past several months with County representatives in hammering out the details of the changeover and creating a mutually agreeable transition plan. This was a result of the Commissioners’ direction that staff take all necessary actions to effectuate the orderly and efficient assumption of the County’s economic development and regional planning responsibilities as soon as possible.

The real goal, Comegno said, is to ensure that the public is provided with uninterrupted service: “We want a transition so seamless that the public sees no gap in service.”

Through its current economic development and improvement authority powers, the Bridge Commission 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 alone have resulted in a savings of approximately $14 million dollars and more than $9 million dollars in grant monies for municipalities.

The new functions the Bridge Commission will assume include assisting municipalities and the private sector to implement plans to foster economic development, including:

  • marketing and business development,
  • technical assistance,
  • assisting the Workforce Investment Board in planning and executing strateges for workforce development in the county, and
  • administering private sector loan programs such as the County’s small business loan program.

The Commission will also assume the County’s current responsibilities of regional planning, which includes helping municipalities plan for growth, development, and preservation. Specifically, the Bridge Commission will assist municipalities with:

  • regional planning and coordination initiatives
  • community and municipal planning and coordination (e.g, local planning initiatives, preparation of master plans and housing plans)
  • analysis of information like demographics, economic and statistics
  • cartography and mapping

 

The Commission will also assist the Burlington County Office of Community Development with strategic planning and help the US Bureau of Census with data gathering.

“Assuming Burlington County’s economic development functions better positions the Commission to address economic growth issues, serve the towns and business community, and helps our taxpayers find jobs in this struggling economy,” said Commissioner Troy E. Singleton. 

Vice Chairwoman Priscilla B. Anderson praised the move: “This change is certainly in the best interests of the Burlington County taxpayers. It’s an effort to avoid duplicating services and to work together with the Freeholders for the good of the County. It’s just good business.” 

The Burlington County Bridge Commission also manages the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417- 4088

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FOR RELEASE 4/13/10

Commission Adopts New Reform Policies
Agency’s Bi-partisan Support for Further Reforms in Sync with Governor’s Reform Plan

Palmyra, NJ – Bridge Commission Chairman John Comegno announced today that he and Commissioners Priscilla Anderson and Troy Singleton plan to enact further reforms consistent with Governor Christie’s calls for increased public accountability and the report issued by the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation (SCI) late last year, both of which called for an end to wasteful and excessive spending at independent authorities and commissions.  In that effort, the Commissioners instructed that certain Commission policies that are inconsistent with SCI recommendations and the Governor’s Executive Order #15 be changed immediately and become effective today.

“As soon as the SCI report came out, I ordered staff to analyze Commission policies and procedures and we immediately took action,” said Comegno. “We’ve become a leader in self-scrutiny and reforming our own agency—these new steps further the Commission’s commitment to being a model agency.” 

Former State Attorney General and current SCI Chairman W. Cary Edwards, who was instrumental in guiding the agency’s self-directed reforms, praised the Commission’s next phase of reforms, not only for their content, but also for adopting new policies in advance of any directive or imposed legislation. “The Bridge Commission is setting an example that other agencies should follow—this Commission continues to, in a bi-partisan way, set the bar high for governmental organizations at all levels. That’s exactly what the SCI Report was hoping to achieve---effective and meaningful reform.”

Specifically, the Commission’s newly enacted policies:

  • prohibit payment for accumulated sick and vacation time on a yearly basis,
  • limit payment for accumulated sick and vacation time upon retirement, 
  • limit compensatory time to non-executive employees and only then with stringent limitations, including prior approval,
  • reduce the maximum earned annual vacation time and limit vacation time carryover,
  • decrease the number of paid holidays and eliminate non-traditional days off,
  • prohibit awarding of “terminal leave” which allows employees to stay on the payroll while accruing sick/vacation time at full salary and benefits,

Commissioner Troy Singleton said, “I stand, in a bi-partisan fashion, with my fellow Commissioners, and know that these reforms take us to the next level of accountability.” 

These actions follow the Commissioners’ decision one month ago to give up the salaries and benefits they received as Bridge Commissioners in response to Governor Christie’s Executive Order #15, in which he called on independent State authorities, boards, and commissions to employ the same safeguards that are standard practices in state government, which included analyzing whether or not board members should be compensated for their service.

 

“The Governor is making tough decisions and taking bold actions in our state, and we all have a choice to either be part of the problem or part of the solution,” said Vice-Chairwoman Priscilla Anderson. “The Bridge Commission is determined to be part of the solution.”

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.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417- 4088

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FOR RELEASE 3/9/10

Bridge Commissioners Forego Salary & Benefits
Agency Measures up to Governor’s Reform Plan

Palmyra, NJ – Burlington County Bridge Commissioners John Comegno, Priscilla Anderson, and Troy Singleton voted unanimously today to give up salaries and benefits they receive as Bridge Commissioners. Comegno also highlighted that the Bridge Commission is already compliant with Governor Christie’s Executive Order #15, in which Christie called on independent State authorities, boards, and commissions to employ the same safeguards that are standard practices in state government.

“I applaud the Governor’s actions during this time of unprecedented economic crisis,” said Comegno, adding that “the severity of these economic times calls for extraordinary measures. That’s why my fellow Commissioners and I have agreed to forego pay and benefits, a sacrifice never before made at the Bridge Commission.”

Vice-Chairwoman Priscilla Anderson said, “I support my fellow Commissioners in relinquishing the salary and benefits we get through the Commission. However, because I have made prior financial commitments for my family based on this income for this year, I have asked, and my fellow Commissioners have agreed, to allow me to continue to be paid through the end of my current term.”

Comegno also stated that the actions outlined in the Governor’s Executive Order are in sync with the reforms the Commission put in place over the past three years. “The Commission has been out front on the topic of reform, dealing with the very issues the Governor outlines in his Executive Order.”

Specifically, Comegno noted that, at his and his fellow Commissioners’ direction:

  • the Commission has no contracts with lobbyists,
  • all travel requests must be approved by the Commissioners, and must be reasonable and directly related to the employee’s duties with the Commission,
  • the Commission has no employment contracts with “golden parachutes.”

“I’m pleased to say that the Commission’s budgets have remained flat, tolls have stayed the same since 2000, and we continue to keep the bridges safe and provide direct property tax relief and create jobs for our residents,” said Commissioner Singleton. “I also want to stress that this is not an interim step for the Commission. I strongly encourage that these steps be made permanent by whatever means possible.”

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.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417- 4088

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FOR RELEASE 2/9/10

Bridge Commission Unveils 2010 Capital Program
Tacony-Palmyra Bridge to Get New Grid Deck

Palmyra, NJ –  Burlington County Bridge Commissioners John Comegno, Priscilla Anderson, and Troy Singleton rolled out the Commission’s 2010 Capital Program for its historic landmark bridges, which will include the Commission’s largest project since 1995. The Commission announced today that it will completely replace the grid deck on the moveable span of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge and will install “smart” gauges on the deck to monitor the closing of the moveable bascule span after bridge openings for marine traffic on the Delaware.

The Bridge Commission's 2010 Capital Program includes replacement of the Tacony-Palmyra's bascule span; the grid deck of that span is shown here.

“More than a million pounds of steel deck will be replaced,” said Comegno. “We’re not only replacing the entire floor of the lift span to make the bridge safer, but also enhancing the structural steel supports under the deck and incorporating smart technology that will electronically guide our bridge openings and closings. All done with no toll increase.”

The new deck, which will replace some pieces which are 60 years old, will make the bridge safer by improving traction on the riding surface and will further enhance the structural integrity of the bridge. A total of 126 pieces will be installed and more than a half-mile of welds will connect the 500 tons of steel deck during this project, which also includes painting of the bascule span.

“This is clearly a challenging project from a contractor’s perspective,” added Commissioner Troy E. Singleton, who also noted that the job will put more than 30 people to work for a two-month period.

The project will be completed in overnight hours to minimize commuter disruption. Within eight-hour time frames, contractors will remove the existing grid deck panels, repair or replace the supports under the deck, weld a new section of grid deck (some weighing up to 10 tons) into place, and balance the span for proper closure after openings for marine traffic. 

“The $7 million project is expected to provide a safe, moveable structure on the bridge for the next 40 to 50 years,” said David Lowdermilk, Vice President of Pennoni Associates, the Commission’s project engineer.

Other 2010 capital projects outlined by the Commission include the installation of state of the art bearings (which will incorporate smart technology) on the Burlington-Bristol Bridge and replacement of the steel operating ropes which raise and lower the Burlington-Bristol Bridge to accommodate marine traffic.

Comegno also reiterated the Commission’s commitment to finishing the cleanup of debris in the Rancocas Creek which has caused flooding and ravaged towns with damages exceeding $25 million dollars.

“Our staff and the professionals at Pennoni deserve much credit for all the work they do to keep our bridges safe and affordable,” said Vice Chairwoman Priscilla B. Anderson.

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.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417- 4088

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FOR RELEASE 1/12/10

Newly Reappointed Commission Chairman Presents "State of the Bridge" 
Highlights 2009 Successes

Palmyra, NJ –  Less than one week after the Burlington County Freeholders reappointed him to the Burlington County Bridge Commission, Chairman John Comegno provided a “State of the Bridge,” highlighting property tax-saving initiatives, innovative capital projects to its bridges, the Commission and Freeholders’ joint efforts to clean up the Rancocas Creek, and “green” shared services programs. “2009 was a milestone year for the Bridge Commission,” said Comegno. “We broke the $9 Million mark in obtaining grants for cash-strapped municipalities, held the line once again on tolls, and surpassed $14 Million in debt relief for taxpayers struggling to make ends meet.”

 

Comegno outlined the Commission’s major achievements for the year:

  • Secured more than $8 Million in Grant Monies for Municipalities this year alone: $9.3 Million obtained since 2006, resulting in direct property tax relief for BurlCo citizens,
  • Surpassed $14 Million in Property Tax Relief for Municipalities: Commission financing programs continue to save taxpayers money ($382 Million in financings since 2002),
  • Won $10.9 Million Insurance Claim:  bridge piers to be repaired with reimbursement claim from Lloyd’s of London,
  • No Toll Increase: for tenth consecutive year,
  • Rancocas Creek cleanup:  Completed Phase 2 of Commission/County initiative to clean creek that ravaged towns with damages exceeding $25 million—all at no cost to municipalities, 
  • Revolutionized bridge inspections: new “traveler system” on Burlington-Bristol Bridge that will slash costs, enhance safety, and reduce traffic delays,
  • “Greenbacks to Go Green” Program: upfront funding for municipalities and schools for cost-saving energy audits,
  • Smart technology” with Drexel University: “smart bearings” on Burlington-Bristol Bridge,
  • New Financial Management System:  increased efficiency of accounting and purchasing operations,
  • “The only status quo you’ll find at the Bridge Commission is in our tolls,” said Vice Chairwoman Priscilla B. Anderson. “Otherwise, the leadership and staff are constantly setting new goals, reaching higher, and achieving more.”
  • Commissioner Troy E. Singleton added, “During my first year as Commissioner, I learned a lot about the Commission and the quality people who work here. I look forward to working with my fellow Commissioners and staff this year to continue to save our taxpayers money and create jobs.”

Chairman Comegno added, “We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, but have much more work ahead of us. We will continue to keep our bridges safe and affordable and assist our neighboring towns through our economic development and shared services programs.”

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.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088

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FOR RELEASE 12/8/09
Burlington County Bridge Commission Wins $10.9 Million Insurance Claim
Bridge Piers to be Repaired with Proceeds
Palmyra, NJ – The Burlington County Bridge Commission has won a $10.9 million reimbursement claim against Lloyd’s of London for damages to the fenders surrounding piers of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge.
 
Commission Solicitor Carmen Saginario Jr. of Capehart & Scatchard reported to the Commissioners that final settlement documents with Lloyd’s of London have been exchanged and that payment is expected this week, ending a nearly three-year litigation in which the Commission sought reimbursement under its insurance policy with Lloyd’s.
 
“We couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome of this dispute and the vigorous representation of the Commission by our legal team,” said Chairman John Comegno. Saginario briefed the Commission at its December 8 meeting and noted that the dispute with Lloyd’s began in February 2003 when the triangular fender nosing at Pier E, which protects the bridge pier, was observed missing during a severe ice flow on the river. At that time, at the direction of the Bridge Commission, divers located the fender on the river bottom approximately 100 feet from its original location, the Commission made a claim with Lloyd’s, and constructed a temporary fender around the pier. 
 
After nearly four years of negotiations to settle the claim, Lloyd’s sued the Commission in February 2007 seeking a declaration that an original up-front payment of $1.5 million by Lloyd’s was the limit of its coverage. After rounds of court appearances, depositions, and other discovery were conducted by Saginario and Anthony Drollas of Capehart & Scatchard, an order of partial summary judgment was entered in the Superior Court in the Commission’s favor.
 
“The judge’s decision in our favor validated the Commission’s position all along that it was entitled to reimbursement for the damages suffered in 2003,” added Saginario.
 
“Having testified myself in this case, I know firsthand how complex the legal and engineering issues were,” said Vice Chairperson Priscilla B. Anderson. “Capehart’s lawyers and our engineers at Pennoni brought the expertise and skill that made this recovery a reality.”
 
 “The Commission’s plans to use these funds to replace the fenders as part of its capital program is just another example of the Commission’s aggressive bridge safety and maintenance initiatives and its putting people to work,” said Commissioner Troy E. Singleton.
 
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 $5 million dollars in grant monies for municipalities.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088

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FOR RELEASE 11/9/09
Comegno Reappointed Bridge Commission Chairman
Vows to Continue Shared Services and Tax Relief Initiatives
Palmyra—At its November 10th reorganization meeting, Burlington County Bridge Commissioners re-elected John Comegno to serve as Chairman. Comegno reaffirmed his threefold commitment—to taxpayers, toll-payers, and the environment—as he looked ahead to the Commission continuing to keep its bridges safe and affordable, while at the same time providing tax relief and jobs to Burlington County residents. Priscilla B. Anderson was also re-elected to the position of Vice-Chairwoman.
 
“Internally, there’s accountability. Technologically, there’s safe bridges and unprecedented innovation and collaboration. Economically and in the area of shared services, there’s steadfast commitment,” said Chairman Comegno, referring to reforms enacted at his direction, the Commission’s “smart technology” partnership with Drexel University, and projects like the Rancocas Creek cleanup which are saving Burlington County taxpayers millions of dollars. “I’m proud to continue to serve as the Commission’s chairman, and to continue to work with my fellow Commissioners and the great people here at the Commission who do the work that provides safe bridges and tax relief for our citizens.”
 
The Commission also adopted its annual notice of meetings, which includes evening meetings to make them more accessible to the public.
 
Commissioners also affirmed their commitment to the positive initiatives they’ve undertaken. “We will continue to hold the line on tolls while we help the taxpayers of Burlington County,” said Vice Chairwoman Anderson. “Just because the economy is showing some signs of recovery doesn’t mean that people are back on their feet financially.”
 
Commissioner Singleton added that the Commission should continue its efforts to be involved in programs that put residents to work. “From the ‘Greenbacks to Go Green’ energy program, to the improvement projects in our host cities, the Commission’s economic development programs are helping people go back to work,” said Singleton. “And that’s one of my priorities.”
 
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. The Commission’s grantwriting services have resulted in 22 municipalities receiving a total of more than $6.9 Million in funding, all at no cost to the taxpayers.
For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088

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FOR RELEASE 10/14/09
Tacony-Palmyra Bridge: Living Laboratory for Engineering Students
Drexel Receives Grant for Tacony-Palmyra Bridge to be “Learning Bridge”
Palmyra—The Burlington County Bridge Commission announced today that the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge will be transformed into the first “living laboratory” for engineering students from Rowan University and other local colleges as part of two federal grants awarded to Drexel University in the amount of $900,000. This unprecedented, cutting-edge educational initiative, developed by Pennoni Associates (the Commission’s resident engineer) and Drexel University, will ultimately enhance the safety and improve the Commission’s historically significant bridges.
 
The first and only educational opportunity of its kind, this collaborative research program will explore how to use technology to transform real structures into living laboratories and project them into the classroom. The program will also challenge the way engineers are trained by observing and monitoring how active bridges are designed, operated, and managed over their lifecycles.  
 
“First, Drexel and Pennoni brought us smart technology. Now, the Bridge Commission can literally change the way engineers learn while it reaps direct benefits from their real-time studies,” said Commission Chairman John Comegno. “This is a win-win for the Commission, for the motoring public and for the students who have an opportunity for hands-on experiences at our facilities.”   
 
David Lowdermilk, Vice President for Pennoni, stressed the importance of the collaboration, “Without a real live bridge on which to do this work, and a Bridge Commission with foresight to support sound and innovative engineering and education, this grant would never have been possible. In fact, it probably would have been rejected.”
 
Lowdermilk also indicated that in this highly competitive National Science Foundation grant program, only 5% of applicants actually are awarded grants. And while it is rare for an institution to receive one grant, it is an even bigger honor to be awarded two grants.
 
As the primary learning tool in this grant, the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge will be equipped with $200,000 worth of monitoring instrumentation and other smart technology provided by the NSF grant funding. That equipment, provided at no cost to the Commission, will be used by educators across the U.S. and even the world to teach their students.
Dr. Franklin Moon, one of the Drexel University experts involved in the partnership between the school and Pennoni Associates, presented the Bridge Commission with a letter of appreciation for the Commission’s innovative work. “In ancient times, engineers and architects were trained by observing bridges and other structures,” said Moon. “After the 1950s, ‘applied science’ became the preferred curriculum for engineering education and lecture-based instruction became the norm—live observation and learning through experience became a thing of the past. There is no question that this collaborative research project offers an outstanding opportunity to develop a new and more effective civil and environmental engineering education program.”  
“Having been an educator myself, I am thrilled that today’s students will benefit from this initiative—and will learn from actual data being sent from our bridges to the classroom live via the internet,” said Priscilla B. Anderson, Commission Vice-Chairwoman. 
 
“As a member of the Board of Trustees of Rowan University, I am excited by the prospects of this partnership between the Bridge Commission, Rowan and other fine universities in pioneering a new way to teach engineering studies,” said Commissioner Troy E. Singleton.
 
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. The Commission’s grantwriting services have resulted in 22 municipalities receiving a total of more than $6.9 Million in funding, all at no cost to the taxpayers.
For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

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FOR RELEASE 10/5/09
Rancocas Creek Clearing Moves on to Lumberton
Local and County Officials Kick Off Phase Two Of Debris Removal Project
Large cranes and heavy equipment operators have returned to the banks of the Rancocas Creek, and today local and county officials were on site to greet them as phase two of the major debris clean-up project got underway.
 
The site of today’s ceremonial creek cleaning “kick-off” was Ironwood Outdoor Center, an 84-acre recreational area that is situated less than a mile upstream from downtown Lumberton, where 200 residents were flooded from their homes in July of 2004. Many found themselves in a similar situation when another flood-causing storm hit the area in April 2007. 

 “This is both an environmental investment and an economic investment of no small magnitude,” said John Comegno, Chairman of the Burlington County Bridge Commission. 

 

 “Homes and businesses sustained more than $25 million in damage as a result of the storms of 2004 and 2007,” Comegno continued. “The experts agree: removing tons of fallen trees and other debris is an important step in helping to mitigate future flooding.”
 
Comegno was joined by Burlington County Freeholder Director Joseph Donnelly, Lumberton Deputy Mayor James Conway, Jr. and Committeeman Patrick Delaney, Medford Mayor Dave Brown and Councilwoman Mary Ann O’Brien, and Southampton Mayor Jim Young.
 
Together, the bridge commission, freeholders, and impacted communities have engaged in the massive creek cleaning project as a shared services initiative. But the commission has borne the major cost, and awarded an $845,000 contract to NuPump Construction of Malaga to undertake the second phase.
 
NuPump will be removing debris from 60 obstruction fields in a three-mile stretch of the creek located entirely in Lumberton. Identified as Reach 3, it flows from Eayrestown-Newbolds Road to Main Street.
“I don’t think anyone can erase from their minds the photos and videos of our residents standing outside their flood-ravaged homes and businesses,” said Deputy Mayor Conway. “We are extremely appreciative of the commitment that the freeholders and bridge commission have made to cleaning the creek.”
 
Freeholder Director Donnelly said the County would absorb the cost of disposing the timber and other debris at the county landfill complex, a tipping fee that would otherwise top $40,000.
 
“The good news is that this project, even when all four of the targeted reaches have been totally cleared, won’t cost local taxpayers a cent,” said Donnelly. “If you’re looking for a shared services project that truly saves the towns money, this is it.”
 
NuPump also won the contract to clear Reach 1 and, in the fall of last year, successfully cleared 29 debris fields from a 1.4-mile stretch of the creek in Southampton. This section of the creek included the area from Vincentown Mill Dam to Landing Street.
 
The work is labor intensive. According to James Streit, Vice President of NuPump, the cranes can’t reach all areas of the creek, so many trees have to be cut into smaller pieces and floated to access points where they can be removed.
 
The bridge commission has applied for federal stimulus dollars to clear the remaining two reaches, which includes:
  • Reach 2, which flows from the Landing Street Bridge to the bridge crossing at Eayrestown-Newbolds Road in Lumberton Township; the stretch of the Rancocas is approximately 2.8 miles long.
  • Reach 4 represents the northern most segment of what is commonly known as the Southwest Branch of the Rancocas Creek. The majority of the segment is located in Lumberton Township. The most upstream segment is located in Medford Township, approximately 500 feet south of the border with Lumberton Township; this portion of the creek is about 2.1 miles long.
 John Scillia with GSE Civil/Environmental Engineers said the entire project involves clearing some 187 debris fields that his firm has identified in over nine miles of creek. 
 
The towns, for their part, will be working to harness the energy of volunteers in future years to undertake annual debris clearing projects, in hopes of minimizing shoaling that can hamper stream flow.
 
“When you remove the heavy debris, the difference in the creek is night and day,” said Southampton Mayor Young. “You can actually see the water flowing more quickly, the way it should.”
 
Medford has already tackled the task of clearing a portion of the southwest branch, which flows into Reach 4. Mayor Brown and Councilwoman O’Brien introduced Bernie Mayer, a local resident who mobilized volunteers to clear some of the debris in a two-mile portion that flows between Medford Park in downtown Medford to Kirby’s Mill, not far from the Lumberton border.
 
“The story is that Bernie was bold enough to come to council and ask if something could be done to clear the creek for canoeing,” quipped Brown. “He was immediately given the volunteer job of Canoe Trail Chairman.”
 
Andrew Giles, Director of Ironwood, said he also saw the creek clearing as a positive development for recreation, especially for canoes and kayakers who drop in near the center. But Giles also vividly recalls the 2004 flood.
 
“The water rose so high that you couldn’t see our building,” he said. “The only thing left exposed was the roof.”   

 

 For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

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FOR RELEASE 9/9/09
Bridge Commission Advances Rancocas Creek Clean-up
Awards Contract for Reach 3
Palmyra—The removal of flood-causing debris from the South Branch of the Rancocas Creek moved another major step forward today with the Burlington County Bridge Commission awarding a contract to a Malaga firm to begin the massive clean-up work on another three-mile “reach” by the end of this month.
 
The creek clean-up project—which is a joint shared service initiative of the bridge commission, the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders, and the impacted municipalities—began last August. That initial phase resulted in the removal of 300 tons of debris from 1.4 miles of the Rancocas Creek by NuPump Construction, which also submitted the low bid to clean-up the next section.
 
“Burlington County residents bore the brunt of more than $25 million in damages to their homes and businesses from storms in 2004 and 2007,” said Chairman John B. Comegno II. “We don’t want that to happen again. That’s why the Bridge Commission is again partnering with the County for a project that won’t cost residents a dime.”
 
Freeholder Director Joseph B. Donnelly reaffirmed the County’s commitment, referring to the County’s waiving the fee for disposal of debris in the County landfill, which will save thousands of dollars: “Local taxpayers in Medford, Southampton, and Lumberton are being spared the enormous cost of clearing debris from the creek,” said Donnelly, “as well as the threat of future flooding, given the pledges from township officials to engage volunteers to keep the creek clear of debris.”
 
Southampton Township Mayor James Young said that the township would work with the Freeholders and Bridge Commission to keep the creek clear of debris through volunteer creek maintenance in the weeks and months ahead. “We will engage environmental and other civic organizations to work with us, to ensure that the creek is cleaned on a regular basis, and that it remains free flowing and free of debris,” said Young. “I look forward to working with other mayors to achieve the same result.”
 
A total of 60 obstruction fields have been identified in Reach 3, the most downstream reach which extends three miles from Eayrestown-Newbolds Road to Main Street in Lumberton Township. Work will begin later this month, according to a schedule developed by GSE, LLC, the construction administrator for this project. GSE developed the plan for clearing the creek including detailed inspection and assessment of creek segments, mapping, environmental permitting, and identification of access points. GSE will oversee all work on this initiative and will be on-site for the duration of the project, which is expected to be complete by January 2010.
 
NuPump Construction, of Malaga, NJ, is credited with the successful clearing of 1.4 miles of Reach 1, a job that began last September and finished within the 90 days stipulated in the contract, in December of last year. They were the lowest responsive bidder, having submitted a not-to-exceed bid amount of $845,000 for Reach 3 of the clearing project.
 
The remaining two reaches, which total nearly 5 miles, are located in Lumberton and Medford:
  • Reach 2 flows from the Landing Street Bridge to the bridge crossing at Eayrestown Newbolds Road in Lumberton Township; the stretch of the Rancocas is approximately 2.8 miles long.
  •  Reach 4 is the northern most segment of what is commonly known as the Southwest Branch of the Rancocas Creek, located in Medford Township, approximately 500 feet south of the border with Lumberton Township; the portion of the creek is about 2.1 miles long.
 Applications for government stimulus loan funds for Reaches 2 through 4 are still pending. 
 
“This is the ultimate shared service,” said Comegno. “Not only is it Burlington County’s largest shared service initiative to date, but it also has been singled out by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson as a model for flood control. And it’s also a model for what can be accomplished when government and municipalities work together.”
 
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. The Commission’s grantwriting services have resulted in 22 municipalities receiving a total of more than $6.7 Million in funding, all at no cost to the taxpayers.
For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

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FOR RELEASE 9/9/09
Commission’s Innovative Bridge Inspection Equipment Slashes Costs, Enhances Safety, & Reduces Traffic Delays
Burlington—Today, the Burlington County Bridge Commission unveiled a new “Traveler System,” an innovative, motorized rolling platform that will revolutionize bridge inspections of the Burlington-Bristol Bridge, provide a higher level of safety for motorists and workers, and save the Commission thousands of dollars.
 
“This equipment will allow our staff and engineers to safely literally hang from the underside of our bridge, to perform up-close inspections and routine maintenance,” said John B. Comegno II, Commission Chairman. “And the best part is that we no longer need to rent an expensive piece of equipment that used to block one full lane of traffic on a two-lane span,” he added, referring to the “snooper,” an underbridge crane that had to be parked on the bridge roadway.
   
The traveler system consists of a platform that rolls, or “travels” along the underside of the Burlington-Bristol Bridge, and a motorized system that moves vertically along the length of the bridge and spans its entire width. Engineers and maintenance workers can safely and easily stand on the platform surface, which can accommodate more than one person, something not possible with the snooper, which contained a “bucket” that held one inspector and was raised and lowered to parts of the structure.
 
“Zero inconvenience for the motoring public—that’s what this traveler system comes down to,” said Vice Chairwoman Priscilla B. Anderson. Because the new equipment is under the bridge, it eliminates any inconvenience to motorists crossing the river.
 
Using the traveler system will also mean significant savings for the Commission: “The cost to rent a traveler system for one month is what it previously cost us at the Burlington-Bristol Bridge to rent a snooper for one day,” added Chairman Troy E. Singleton. 
 
Comegno credited Commission maintenance staff’s initiative, having approached Commissioners about the innovative system. “Our maintenance staff is second to none,” he said. “It was their idea to investigate and ultimately acquire this system. This is the kind of forward-thinking that sets the Commission apart—and makes us a pioneer in bridge maintenance.”
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. The Commission’s grantwriting services have resulted in 22 municipalities receiving a total of more than $6.7 Million in funding, all at no cost to the taxpayers.
For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

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FOR RELEASE 9/9/09
“GREENBACKS TO GO GREEN”
Bridge Commission To Lend Funds for Local Energy Audits and Projects
Palmyra—The Bridge Commission today unveiled its “Greenbacks to Go Green” program, a clean energy program which will provide “up-front funding” for Burlington County municipalities and schools to allow them to perform cost-saving energy audits on their facilities and buildings. 
 
The Commission’s program, one of many shared services initiatives undertaken by the Commission, will also help participants construct energy-efficient measures identified from the energy audits and will offer financing for these projects at low interest rates. 
 
“We heard the concerns of municipal officials at the Energy Conservation Summit we held in June,” said John B. Comegno II, referring to the June 16th event hosted by the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Bridge Commission. “And we asked ourselves how the Bridge Commission could respond to the needs of the towns. ‘Greenbacks to Go Green’ was the answer.”
 
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) offers a program which will reimburse local government entities the costs of performing energy audits. However, many local officials have indicated they could not afford the up-front costs, and haven’t included them in their budgets.
 
Freeholder Director Joseph B. Donnelly, who also participated in the energy summit, said that “this innovative program will not only provide dollars that the towns need to get started, it also will assist in the financing of projects.
 
“This is a critically important shared service initiative that enables towns and schools to explore renewable energy opportunities and to reap the advantage of long-term cost savings they can pass on to the taxpayers,” Donnelly added. 
 
Comegno and Donnelly said reaction to the Commission’s program has already been positive.
"By providing up-front funding for this worthwhile program, the Bridge Commission is making it possible for us to participate," said Luis Crespo, Beverly City Council President.
 
"The Commission's help is a saving grace for small municipalities," Medford Lakes Borough Manager Geoffrey Urbanik added.
 
The Commission’s three-pronged program (described in the attached Fact Sheet) will create a revolving loan fund of up to $500,000 to make funds available to local governments, at zero percent interest, to fund the upfront costs of the energy audits. The NJBPU will reimburse local governments 75% of the costs incurred to perform the audit; and will reimburse the remaining 25% when audit recommendations are implemented. Participants will repay the Commission when they receive reimbursement funds from the State.
 
“As a former Mayor, I can see of no reason for towns not to avail themselves of this shared service,” said Vice Chairperson Priscilla B. Anderson. “
 
Through its well-established pooled loan program, the Commission also plans to offer financing that will provide favorable interest rates for participants to implement the recommendations which result from the audits. 
 
“In short, this initiative is a winner on several levels: conserving energy, saving costs, and creating jobs. We couldn’t be more pleased to continue to help our neighbors,” concluded Comegno.
 
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. The Commission’s grantwriting services have resulted in 22 municipalities receiving a total of more than $6.7 Million in funding, all at no cost to the taxpayers.
For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

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FOR RELEASE 8/27/09
Bridge Commission and Palmyra Police Departments Participate In Statewide DWI  Crackdown
Shared Service Initiative Puts Public Safety First
Palmyra---The Burlington County Bridge Commission (BCBC) Police Department, in conjunction with the Palmyra Police Department, will be conducting a DWI sobriety checkpoint on Route 73 North this weekend. The shared service initiative, staffed by members of both police forces, will help curtail impaired drivers along Route 73, a heavily traveled thoroughfare in Palmyra.
   
Each department received a $6,000 Highway Traffic Safety grant from the “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” statewide DWI crackdown to support this effort. The grants provide participating departments funding for DWI enforcement from August 21 through September 7.
 
“Sharing services is about saving---usually it’s about saving money but this joint initiative is also about saving lives,” said John B. Comegno II, BCBC Chairman. “While the Commission has already saved Burlington County taxpayers more than $13 million dollars from our economic development efforts, there’s no telling how many lives will be saved by this dual-force mission.”
 
Palmyra Mayor John Gural agrees: “Working with the Burlington County Bridge Commission, and sharing services in general, is a critical part of our strategy to reduce costs for Palmyra and county residents alike.” “We greatly appreciate this particular joint effort however, because it also gives us the chance to take drunk drivers off our streets and make our community a safer place.”
 
In addition to the checkpoint, the BCBC Police Department has increased its roving individual patrols during for the two-week period.
 
(left to right) Caption Bruce Herbst of the Burlington County Bridge Commission Police Department with Lt. John Lippincott and Lt. Scott Perlman of the Palmyra Police Department.
“I know firsthand that joint efforts like this keep the motoring public safe, prevent accidents on and around our bridge, and ultimately, save lives,” said Bridge Commission Police Captain Bruce Herbst.
 
“These DWI checkpoint operations have been highly successful in detecting and deterring persons under the influence of alcohol/drugs or with dangerous equipment violations,” said Lt. Scott Perlman from the Palmyra Police Department. 
 
The Burlington County Bridge Commission Police Department and the Palmyra Police Department offer the following tips:
- If you plan to drink, designate a driver
- Take mass transit, a taxi or ask a sober friend to drive you home
- Spend the night where the activity is held
- Report impaired drivers to law enforcement. In New Jersey, drivers may dial #77 to report a drunk or aggressive driver.
- If you’re intoxicated and traveling on foot, the safest way to get home is to take a cab or have a sober friend or family member drive you to your doorstep.
 
“I commend the Palmyra and BCBC Bridge Police Departments for a job well done and appreciate Chairman Comegno's efforts in promoting shared services,” added Gural.
 
Gural is among those who recognize the Bridge Commission’s leadership in shared services, an initiative that Chairman Comegno remains committed to. The Commission’s shared services include:
• Rancocas Creek cleanup project: Burlington County’s largest shared service initiative to date and a model for flood control removed 300 tons of debris from 41 different debris fields in the first leg of the creek at no cost to local municipalities; work on the next stretch begins in September. 
• Justice Assistance Grants (JAG): from grant applications sponsored by the Bridge Commission and Freeholders, 17 Burlco municipalities will receive $421,125 in funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Edward Byrne Memorial JAG program.
• Cuts in small town aid: the Commission analyzed the impact of mandated regionalization on small town aid on behalf of 25 Burlco towns, assisted towns in meeting revised COAH requirements, facilitated grant applications for feasibility studies for sharing municipal services, and ultimately released a 21-page report.
 
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 $13 million dollars and more than $6 million in grant monies for municipalities.
For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

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FOR RELEASE 8/14/09
17 Burlco Towns Awarded $680,000 in Grants from Bridge Commission/County-Sponsored Applications
Return on Commission Investment now Twenty-one to One  
Palmyra—As a result of another Shared Services initiative of the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Burlington County Bridge Commission, 17 municipalities will receive $421,125 in funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program and one town will receive $260,500 from New Jersey’s Department of Transportation.
 
While the Bridge Commission covered the expense of the grant applications, the Freeholders waived the 10% administrative fee it was entitled to as the lead agency and will also serve as the fiscal agent for the JAG award, handling grant administration and required reporting functions. By providing those services at no costs to the municipalities, the program allows all the funds to go directly to the local municipalities, thus ensuring that the JAG funds have the largest possible positive impact.
 
The Edward Byrne Memorial JAG program funds innovative programs to address drug and violent crime issues and improve New Jersey’s criminal justice system. Grant monies will be used to expand or continue policing and public safety initiatives in Bordentown Township, Burlington City, Burlington Township, Cinnaminson, Delran, Edgewater, Evesham, Lumberton, Maple Shade, Moorestown, Mount Holly, Mount Laurel, Palmyra, Pemberton, Riverside, Westampton, and Willingboro.
 
Palmyra received the Safe Streets to Transit grant, which is part of NJDOT’s Bikeways Fund program. Funding will be used to complete the Borough’s local portion of the Heritage Trail, a regional pathway along the Delaware River that is shared between several New Jersey and Pennsylvania municipalities.
 
“This grant initiative is yet another demonstration of the Bridge Commission’s continuing commitment to shared services,” said Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II. “And it’s another shining example of what can be accomplished when government entities work together—these shared services initiatives are a win-win for Burlington County towns and their taypayers,”
 
Said Freeholder Director Joseph B. Donnelly, “To the credit of the various towns, they will make good use of these grant dollars, and have identified specific programs and purchases to bolster local law enforcement. The county’s administering of the grant should facilitate disbursement, and ensure the funds are put to work sooner than later.”
 
Of the 17 applications filed on behalf of municipal police departments, all 17 were awarded. Each allocation will be used for activities and projects that will provide meaningful and measurable outcomes consistent with the goals of the Recovery Act to include: funding for a special patrol squad to disrupt gang activities, computer and technology equipment, crime analysis software, mobile radios, a reverse 911 system, GPS for police tactical and safety equipment, and other equipment for law enforcement.
 
Applications were prepared by Community Grants, Planning, and Housing (CGP&H), the East Windsor-based firm hired by the Commission that has garnered a total of $6,759,342 in grants for Burlington County municipalities, resulting in huge tax savings for those towns. With expertise in soliciting county, state, federal, and private sector grant and low-interest loan programs, CGP&H boasts an impressive 21:1 return on investment for Commission-sponsored grant applications.
 
“Whether it’s saving our tollpayers from a toll increase or saving financially strapped towns and their taxpayers from the financial and economic development impact of another flood, the Bridge Commission is determined to be a good neighbor,” said Comegno.
 
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. The Commission’s grantwriting services have resulted in 22 municipalities receiving a total of more than $6.7 Million in funding, all at no cost to the taxpayers.
For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

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FOR RELEASE 8/11/09
Commission: “Clean-Up of Next Stretch of Debris-Filled Rancocas Creek A Go”
Freeholders and Commission Fulfill Commitment to Aid Flood-Ravaged Towns
Palmyra—Commissioners announced today that they are moving forward with Burlington County’s largest shared service initiative to date, a partnership among the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Bridge Commission, and local municipalities that will save taxpayers millions of dollars by removing tons of debris that caused devastating flooding in Lumberton, Southampton, and Medford.
 
“Shared services bring property tax relief, but this one also saves people from ruinous financial and personal loss,” said Chairman John B. Comegno II, referring to the more than $25 million in flood damage to homes and businesses caused by previous storms, including $8.5 million in damage during the April 2007 storm alone. “We’ve said in the past that the Bridge Commission is committed to seeing this project through all four reaches, so we are here, putting up the dollars to make this happen—all with no toll increase at our two bridges.”
   
“We are pleased to once again partner with the Bridge Commission to move this project forward,” said Freeholder Director Joseph B. Donnelly, who committed to waiving the County’s fee for disposal of the debris in the County landfill, which will save thousands of dollars. “The short term benefit is that local taxpayers in Medford, Southampton and Lumberton are being spared the enormous cost of clearing debris from the creek. The long term benefit is that it will mitigate flooding and, with the future assistance of the affected towns, who will assemble volunteers to keep the waterway clear, will avoid the millions of dollars in damage to so many downtown businesses and homes in 2004 and 2007.”
 
Southampton Township Mayor James Young said that the township would work with the Bridge Commission and Freeholders to keep the creek clear of debris by encouraging volunteer creek maintenance in the weeks and months ahead. “We will do whatever we can to engage environmental and other civic organizations to work with us, to ensure that the creek is cleaned on a regular basis, and that it remains free flowing and free of debris,” said Young. “I look forward to working with other mayors to achieve the same result.”

 A total of 60 obstruction fields have been identified in Reach 3, which extends three miles from Eayrestown-Newbolds Road to Main Street in Lumberton Township. The Commission anticipates awarding the contract in early September and beginning work later that month, according to a schedule developed by GSE, LLC, the engineering firm overseeing the project. The project is expected to be complete by January.

The remaining two reaches, which total nearly 5 miles, are located in Lumberton and Medford:
  • Reach 2 flows from the Landing Street Bridge to the bridge crossing at Eayrestown Newbolds Road in Lumberton Township;  the stretch of the Rancocas is approximately 2.8 miles long.
  • Reach 4 is the northern most segment of what is commonly known as the Southwest Branch of the Rancocas Creek, located in Medford Township, approximately 500 feet south of the border with Lumberton Township; the portion of the creek is about 2.1 miles long.
Applications for government stimulus loan funds for Reaches 2 through 4 are still pending, but in an effort to clear the creek as soon as practicable, the Commission is initiating the project by putting the most downstream reach (Reach 3) out to bid. 
 
“We did the responsible thing—first, by trying to fund this enormous project with outside sources, and second, by remaining true to our commitment to see it through, whether or not the federal funds are available,” said Vice Chairwoman Priscilla B. Anderson. “Proceeding with Reach 3 is proof positive we’re in this for the long haul.” 
 
Commissioner Troy E. Singleton added, “This is just one more initiative of the Commission aimed at saving or creating jobs for our Burlington County residents. A lot of families suffered as a result of the floods of 2004 and 2007.”
 
“Whether it’s saving our tollpayers from a toll increase or saving financially strapped towns and their taxpayers from the financial and economic development impact of another flood, the Bridge Commission is determined to be a good neighbor,” said Comegno. “This ultimate cooperative effort, among the Freeholders, the Bridge Commission, and local community members, will go a long way toward improving not only the creek, but also the lives of Burlington County residents as well.”
 
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 $13 million dollars.
For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

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FOR RELEASE 7/22/09
No Toll Increase for Tacony-Palmyra & Burlington-Bristol Bridges
Commission Cuts Budget and Follows County Lead in Proposing Hiring and Salary Freeze

 Palmyra—Burlington County Bridge Commissioners announced for the ninth consecutive year that there would be no toll increase on its two toll bridges. Introducing a budget that decreases  expenses from last year, the Commission reaffirmed not only its commitment to an aggressive bridge maintenance program, which will expand the “smart technology” already incorporated, but also pledged to continue its economic development and tax-saving efforts.

 “I’m proud to announce once again that we’re not raising tolls and, in fact, we’re actually cutting our spending. Today, more than ever, our tollpayers need a financial break,” Bridge Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II announced.

 


 

During the meeting, more than 50 Bridge Commission employees were recognized for their performance in the aftermath of the lightning strike that hit the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge toll plaza on July 3rd. Here, Toll Collector Gail Fortino receives a certificate of appreciation from Bridge Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II.

 

Comegno credited Commission administration and staff for tightening their belts to make the budget a reality. Specifically, he referred to the Commission aggressively cutting its budget and instituting a hiring freeze on non-essential employees, as well as a salary freeze for supervisory and managerial personnel.
 
Commissioners announced that under the slashed budget and hiring freeze, there will be no new hirings or replacements unless a determination is made that the replacement or hiring is essential based on the recommendation of a committee comprised of one Commissioner and the Commission’s Executive Director and CFO.
 
The Commission’s $29.9 million capital budget continues the Commission’s commitment to maintain the integrity and safety of its bridges, and includes the grid deck replacement (and addition of smart technology) on the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, operating ropes replacement and bearing replacement project (with “smart bearings”) on the Burlington-Bristol 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, “We made it a priority to keep our tolls stable while we continue to help towns get the funds they are entitled to and so desperately need.” Through the Commission’s work with Community Grants, Planning & Housing, Burlco municipalities received $5.2 million in grant monies, all at no cost to municipalities. “And for every dollar spent by the Commission, $22 in grants were awarded—an impressive return on investment,” said Anderson.
 
“This budget reflects the Commission’s commitment to safe, accessible, and affordable bridges,” said Commissioner Troy E. Singleton, “and I’m pleased that our aggressive capital programs will continue to provide jobs for our citizens during these trying times.”
 
About the no-toll increase, Comegno concluded, “As clichéd as it may sound, we are still the best bargain around. And these days, who can’t use a bargain?”   
                                                                     *     *     *
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 $13 million dollars and more than $5 million dollars in grant monies for municipalities.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

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FOR RELEASE Friday, 6/12/09
Freeholders and Bridge Commission Host First-Ever “Energy Conservation Summit”
Free Event Will Show Burlco Municipalities How to Save Energy and Costs
Palmyra—The Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Burlington County Bridge Commission are hosting the first-ever Burlington County Energy Conservation Summit Tuesday, June 16th at the Palmyra Cove Nature Park Environmental Education Center. Speakers at the free event will explain energy-saving programs, grants available to fund program applications, and financing options to implement green initiatives. 
   
“There’s a lot of talk right now about ‘going green’ but this summit will offer tangible resources for saving energy and reducing energy costs,” said Freeholder Director Joseph B. Donnelly. “Municipalities, authorities, and schools can’t afford to miss this.”

Presenters will outline programs offered through the State and the Board of Public Utilities, grant opportunities which may assist organizations in meeting the new challenge, and money-saving financing opportunities like pooled loans. Attendees will hear how the Commission can assist them in taking advantage of these offerings.
 
Previously, the Bridge Commission sponsored preparation of applications for municipalities, authorities, and schools for the NJBPU’s Energy Audit Program, coordinated and procured contractors to implement the energy-conservation measures identified in the audits, and offered attractive, low-cost financing to purchase equipment related to implementing audit recommendations. Applications are in process on behalf of the Bridge Commission and 8 municipalities.
 
“This Energy Summit is the next logical step in the process,” said John B. Comegno II. “Attendees will walk away with more than information—they’ll walk away with a plan to not only save energy but to save dollars as well.”
A representative from the NJBPU will give details about energy-saving improvement programs like the NJ Clean Energy Program including the purpose of the program, potential audit findings, and how organizations can comply with audit recommendations.
 
Other presenters include David Gerkens, Vice President of Communities Grants Planning and Housing, an East-Windsor-based firm with expertise in soliciting county, state, federal, and private sector grant and low-interest loan programs; Mike Fischetti and Ray Johnson of Concord Engineering Group, a mechanical, electrical, and energy consulting firm that was the key speaker at Governor Corzine’s bill signing for the Combined Heat & Power stimulus; and Brian Kowalski of Capehart & Scatchard, who will address money-saving financing opportunities.
Added Chairman Comegno, “Now more than ever, our taxpayers need the relief this kind of shared service brings.” 

*    *    *
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 $13 million dollars.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

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FOR RELEASE Tuesday, 5/12/09
Commission’s Grant Assistance Secures $5 Million for Burlco Municipalities
Burlco Agency Continues Tax-Saving Measures 
Palmyra—At today’s meeting of the Burlington County Bridge Commission, Commissioners announced that $3.67 million dollars in federal funds recently awarded to Willingboro and Burlington City resulted from grant applications prepared on behalf of the towns by the Commission.
 
“Through the Bridge Commission’s work with Community Grants, Planning, and Housing (CGP&H), we have brought more than $5.2 million to cash-strapped towns in Burlington County,” said Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II. “This is just the latest success from our aggressive plan to garner all the dollars available for municipalities,” he added.
 
Willingboro and Burlington City were awarded $2 million and $1.67 million, respectively, from grant applications prepared by CGP&H for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The federal program 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 max. 
 
Deputy Mayor of Willingboro Township, Paul L. Stephenson, Ed.D., applauded the successful partnership: “We appreciate the exemplary work of the Burlington County Bridge Commission to make this happen.”
 
Last December the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders asked the Commission to prepare grant applications on behalf of Burlco towns. “We directed staff to make it a priority to help towns get the funds they are entitled to—and desperately need,” said Vice-Chairwoman Priscilla B. Anderson.
 
Additional grants being pursued by CGP&H, as per Commission direction, include:
  • COPS Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP), which provides funding for hiring and rehiring of additional career law enforcement officers. Applications have been submitted for 4 municipalities.
  • NJ Board of Public Utilities Energy Audit Program, a state incentive program which will reimburse municipal and county governments costs of performing energy audits of their facilities. Applications are in process on behalf of the Bridge Commission and 8 municipalities.
  • The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, a program which funds innovative programs to address drug and violent crime issues and improve New Jersey’s criminal justice system. Applications are in process on behalf of 17 municipalities.
  • Centers of Place, which provides funds to support non-traditional transportation improvements that advance municipal growth management objectives. Applications are in process on behalf of 2 municipalities.
  • NJ Department of Transportation’s Transportation Enhancement Program, which is designed to foster more livable communities, preserve and protect environmental and cultural resources, and to promote alternative modes of transportation. Applications are in process on behalf of 2 municipalities.
  • NJ Department of Transportation Bikeways, which provides funds to promote bicycling as an alternate mode of transportation (e.g., constructing additional dedicated bike paths). Applications are in process on behalf of 2 municipalities.
  • NJ Department of Transportation Safe Streets to Transit, which provides funding to improve access to transit facilities and all nodes of public transportation and improve safety. Applications are in process on behalf of 1 municipality.
Community Grants, Planning and Housing (CGP&H) has expertise in soliciting county, state, federal, and private sector grant and low-interest loan programs.
 
Bridge Commissioners remain impressed with CGP&H’s return on investment—for every dollar spent, $22 in grants were awarded. Commissioner Troy E. Singleton said, “By partnering with CGP&H, the Commission is investing in our towns, saving our taxpayers millions of dollars. And with that rate of return, it’s money very well spent.” 
 
Added Chairman Comegno, “Now more than ever, our taxpayers need the relief this kind of shared service brings.” 
*    *    *
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 $13 million dollars.
 
For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.


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 FOR RELEASE Wednesday, 4/22/09
Commission Forges Ahead with Rancocas Creek Clean-up
Joint Effort of Freeholders and Commission Prevents Future Flooding
Palmyra—Burlington County Bridge Commissioners John B. Comegno II, Priscilla B. Anderson, and Troy E. Singleton reaffirmed the Commission’s commitment to the Rancocas Creek clean-up as the final three phases of the project were approved at today’s Commission meeting. A Shared Service project of the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders and Bridge Commission, the project will save taxpayers millions of dollars.
 
“Last year we removed 300 tons of debris from 29 different debris fields from the first leg of the creek in Southampton---now, water in the creek is flowing quickly and efficiently,” said Chairman Comegno. “And we won’t stop until the job is done,” he added, referring to the remaining three reaches in the Lumberton-Medford-Southampton watershed. “The Bridge Commission is committed to seeing this project through all four reaches, at no cost to local municipalities.”
 
The entire project is expected to be completed by late Fall 2009; by then, a total of 9.3 miles of creek will have been “desnagged” and 185 debris fields cleared.
 
“A free-flowing creek will go a long way to avoiding the flooding that caused more than $25 million in damage to homes and businesses in the storms of 2004 and 2007,” said Vice Chairwoman Priscilla B. Anderson. 
 
Commissioners saw firsthand the project’s significant impact to Reach 1 of the creek in a presentation from John Scillia, P.E., from Garden State Engineering, LLC, the engineering firm overseeing the project. “Before and after” photos evidenced the jams that plagued the creek before the work on Reach 1 started and the open and clear waterway that resulted after project completion.
   

The remaining three reaches, which total nearly 8 miles, are located in Southampton, Lumberton, and Medford:

  • Reach 2 flows from the Landing Street Bridge to the bridge crossing at Eayrestown Newbolds Road in Lumberton Township; the stretch of the Rancocas is approximately 2.8 miles long.
  • Reach 3 continues in a northwest direction from Eayrestown Newbolds Road to Main Street in Lumberton Township; the section of the Rancocas is about 3 miles long.
  • Reach 4 is the northern most segment of what is commonly known as the Southwest Branch of the Rancocas Creek, located in Medford Township, approximately 500 feet south of the border with Lumberton Township; the portion of the creek is about 2.1 miles long.
“This is the ultimate shared services initiative---one that literally saved the day for financially strapped towns and their taxpayers, who wouldn’t be able to handle the financial and economic development impact of another flood,” said Comegno.
 
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 $13 million dollars.
 
For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.
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FOR RELEASE Tuesday, 3/10/09
Palmyra Cove Nature Park and BCIT Students: Perfect Together
Outdoor Environmental Science Classroom Featured in NJN program this April
Palmyra—“It is the perfect place for my students and I to conduct a live study of ‘Earth as a System,’” said Burlington County Institute of Technology teacher John Moore, who brought 22 of his students to the Palmyra Cove Nature Park to conduct live studies of the weather and water. During the visit, which will be featured on NJN’s Classroom Close-up NJ television program on April 6, students used sophisticated equipment to sample water and measure weather from the park’s shoreline, which expands over one mile along the Delaware River.

BCIT instructor John Moore (left) shares information about how his students gathered weather and water data at Palmyra Cove Nature Park. BCIT students in background are (left to right) Tejay Marsh [somewhat obstructed], Kate Didenedetto, Brandon Rogers, and Anthony Rossi).

 
“Increasing the use of technology in the teaching of environmental science has been one of our goals for our outdoor classroom here at Palmyra Cove since the beginning,” said Clara Ruvolo, Director of the park. “The Annual Water Festival we host for elementary school children is part of a nationwide effort to teach students about water conservation and resource management. Now we’re extending our reach into the high school community. And we’re proud to partner with BCIT to make this goal a reality.” 

 

While BCIT's John Moore commented that with resources in Burlington County like Palmyra Cove Nature Park, he feels "we can revolutionize education," Bridge Commissioners were impressed with the work of these high school students and BCIT, the only high school in the US to have GLOBE status.

“We’re thrilled to once again share our outdoor classroom with educators and children who are interested in studying our environment by enjoying hands-on experiences at the Nature Cove,” said Bridge Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II. “We couldn’t be more pleased to add the 22 BCIT students to the 12,000 students who have already visited this treasure since its opening.”
 
During their day-long visit to the Nature Cove, students used hand-held Digital Lab equipment to electronically sample water and weather—they measured dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH of the water and air temperature, wind speed and humidity as part of weather studies. The 9th through 12th grade students in BCIT’s GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) Program took measurements using a scientific approach to studying the earth that is used by GLOBE, NASA, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Moore is a teacher of Geospatial Technologies and Director of GLOBE at BCIT.
 
Moore added, “It’s one thing to study environmental science from a textbook, and quite another to be able to touch, smell, and interact with it personally—that’s the reality at Palmyra Cove.”
 
The GLOBE program is a hands-on, international, primary and secondary school-based environmental science and education program financed by NASA and the National Science Foundation. Involved in GLOBE are students 5 to 18 years of age from more than 19,000 schools in 109 countries around the world. There are more than 36,000 GLOBE-trained teachers who have access to GLOBE resources; more than 16 million measurements have been contributed to the GLOBE database.
 
Classroom Close-up, NJ is a magazine program focusing on innovative projects happening in New Jersey public schools. The 30-minute weekly series on NJN Public Television features the students, teachers, school staff and communities who create and participate in successful school projects and events.
 
Palmyra Cove Nature Park is a 250-acre nature preserve located at the foot of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, which features a 10,000 square foot Environmental Discovery Center with   interactive exhibits, and 10 miles of trails through woodlands and wetlands (including a tidal marsh, tidal creek, pond, 1¼ mile river shoreline). It is open 7 days, year-round, sunrise to sunset, and is free to the public. Since its opening, PCNP has hosted 12,000 students, representing nearly 200 schools.
 
“Palmyra Cove is a great destination—it has a variety of ecosystems that not only expose students to how our Earth functions as a system but does so in a way that’s exciting for the students,” said John Moore. “It is an experience that my students always look forward too, and that’s good for learning.”
 *     *     *
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 $13 million dollars.

 
For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088

 
FOR RELEASE Tuesday, 1/13/09
Commission Highlights 2008 Successes in “State of the Bridge”
Capital Bridge Projects Commission’s Top Priority; Economic Development Outreach Brings Tax Relief to Region
Palmyra—Burlington County Bridge Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II provided a “State of the Bridge” at today’s Commission meeting, highlighting major capital projects to the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges, the Commission and Freeholders’ joint efforts to clean up the Rancocas Creek, and economic development initiatives that delivered significant savings for taxpayers and towns.
 
“2008 was more than just the year of ‘no toll increase’ at our bridges,” said Chairman Comegno. “It was the year we began to clean up the Rancocas Creek, ramped up our already aggressive bridge maintenance program, and gave tax relief to Burlington County residents in ways even we hadn’t envisioned.”
 
Comegno outlined the Commission’s major achievements for the year:
  • Rancocas Creek cleanup: removal of 300 tons of debris from 41 different debris fields from the first leg of the creek in Southampton at no cost to local municipalities
  • Palmyra Cove Nature Park agreement: saved 50 acres of nature park from future deposit of of dredge materials
  • Smart technology” capital projects: added “smart technology” to grid deck at Tacony-Palmyra Bridge and bearings with load cells at Burlington-Bristol Bridge, both now in design phase
  • Small Business Revolving Loan Program: earmarked $500,000 in economic initiative funds for the County’s small business revolving loan program, the goal of which is to assist small businesses and create jobs
  • Bridge maintenance capital projects: south abutment work on the Burlington-Bristol Bridge, repaved approaches and toll plaza areas of both bridges, installed backup air-conditioning to vital information technology areas, and replaced a trolley-wire system (completed 100% by in-house maintenance staff)
  • Green vehicle wash bay: installed an environmentally friendly vehicle wash bay by in-house maintenance staff; offered use to surrounding towns; a new one planned for Burlington
  • Fiber-optic and wireless communication system and portable toll collection system: enhanced crisis scenario equipment
  • “Gateway Project” in Burlington City: completed first phase of beautification and improvement project to Burlington-Bristol Bridge toll plaza and surrounding area
  • Surpassed $1.1 Million in grant monies secured for Municipalities: in 2008 alone, secured $504,904 in grants with a ROI of 10:1
  • Surpassed $13 Million in Debt Relief for Municipalities: through Commission financing and County guarantee, for a total of $392 Million in financings 
  • Shared Services/Tax-Saving Initiatives: we analyzed the impact of mandated regionalization on small town aid on behalf of 25 towns; assisted towns in meeting revised COAH requirements; and most recently announced we’d assist municipalities with PARIS (Public Archives Records Infrastructure Support) Grant and Neighborhood Stabilization Program Grant applications
  • Energy conservation program: sponsoring applications for NJBPU Energy Audit Reimbursement Program, a state incentive program which will reimburse municipal and county governments costs of performing energy audits of their facilities, conserve energy, and save County taxpayers money
  • Bridges to the People: continued evening and on-the-road meetings
  • Launch of Commission’s new website
  • No Toll Increase  
 “As I’ve said in the past, our taxpayers and toll payers are in difficult economic times,” Vice Chairwoman Anderson said. “We will continue to do all we can to help while maintaining our number one priority—keeping our bridges safe.”
 
Chairman Comegno added, “We accomplished much in 2008 but always have much more work ahead of us. We will continue to keep our bridges safe and affordable, and continue to assist our neighboring towns in any way possible, including creating jobs and business opportunities throughout the county.”
 
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 $13 million dollars.
 
For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088

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FOR RELEASE Tuesday, 1/13/09
New Democrat Commissioner Sworn in for Three-Year Term
Singleton to Focus on Job Creation in Region
 
Palmyra—Troy E. Singleton was installed as the Burlington County Bridge Commission’s newest Commissioner today at the Commission’s regular meeting held at Palmyra Cove Nature Park. Maple Shade Mayor James E. Fletcher performed the swearing in; Fletcher held the Commissioner post through the end of 2008. The Palmyra resident was appointed by the Board of Chosen Freeholders on December 30th. He is the Director of Policy and Planning for the New Jersey Regional Council of Carpenters, a post he’s held since 2007.
“I see the addition of Mr. Singleton to the Commission as a real opportunity,” Chairman John B. Comegno II said. “He’s not only familiar with our economic development efforts, he also supports that work and is already looking for ways to expand that. Working together toward a common goal, I believe we can bring about even more financial relief to the overburdened taxpayers of our region.”
 
Mr. Singleton added, “I am deeply humbled and honored to serve my community and county in this manner. In this time of unprecedented financial distress in our country, a greater emphasis will be placed on those responsible for creating economic and employment opportunities for those whom we serve here in Burlington County. I stand ready, with my fellow Commissioners, to meet that challenge.”
Having lived along the Route 130 corridor most of his life, Mr. Singleton knows all too well the work the Bridge Commission has done in revitalizing that area. The current Commissioners look forward to working with him to further this mission.
 
“I’m eager to work with Mr. Singleton, given the sense of unity that I’ve heard he wants to bring to this experience ,” said Vice Chairwoman Anderson. “That will go a long way to continuing the good work we’ve done.”
 
 
A member of the New Jersey Carpenters Union Local #715, Mr. Singleton was Deputy Executive Director for the New Jersey General Assembly Majority Office in Trenton from 2002 to 2007. While there, he served as Chief of Staff for New Jersey Speaker Joseph J. Roberts, Jr. Commissioner Singleton was Deputy Executive Director for the New Jersey Democratic State Committee from 2001 to 2002, following his service as Legislative Director to Assemblymen Herb Conaway and Jack Conners from 1998 to 2001.
 
A graduate of Rowan University in Glassboro, Commissioner Singleton is a member of Rowan’s Board of Trustees. He is also a Volunteer Coach for Pennsauken’s Youth Athletic Association and a Civilian Emergency Response Team Member.
 
For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088
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For Immediate Release, 12/16/08
Commission Authorizes Major Capital Projects—New Span & Bearings Will Transmit Data to Engineers
Freeholders Secure Commission’s Help Preparing Grant Applications on Towns’ Behalf
Palmyra—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 which transmit data to Commission engineers, allowing for real-time monitoring. The third project is the replacement of operating ropes on the Burlington-Bristol Bridge.
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.”

 

 Dr. Frank Moon from Drexel University shared a presentation on "smart technology" -- Commissioners approved two such "smart" projects that will now go to bid.

 
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.

 

NJ Senator Phil Haines was among those who attended Commissioner Fletcher's last meeting and wished him well. Also in attendance were former Freeholder Vince Farias and Maple Shade Mayor Lou Manchello.

Commission’s Grant Assistance Exceeds $1 Million; Continues to Help BurlCo Towns Prepare Grant Applications
 
 
At the request of the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Bridge Commission, which helped Burlco towns obtain $1 million in grant monies, 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.
 
“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 max. 
 
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.
 
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 $13 million dollars. 
 
For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088
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For immediate release, 11/17/08

Bridge Commission Goes Green --- Launches Energy Conservation Program

Proposes Shared Service to Cover all County Facilities; May Expand to Municipalities and Schools

Palmyra—The Burlington County Bridge Commission’s reappointed Chairman John B. Comegno II announced today that one of the Commission’s top priorities will be to explore and implement programs and initiatives that will conserve energy and save County taxpayers and toll payers money. He said the Commission is taking immediate advantage of a state program that will reimburse municipal and county governments costs of performing energy audits of their facilities. The incentive program is offered by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU).

“We only recently learned of this initiative, and we’re wasting no time—I have already directed staff to begin the application process for local government energy assistance grants for Commission facilities,” said Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II. “I also forwarded a letter to Freeholder-Director Fenton late last week suggesting to the Freeholders that, as part of our shared services initiatives, we would help the county audit its facilities as well—why shouldn’t the entire county reap the benefits of these energy cost savings?”

“The Freeholders have already made a commitment to making the most of green energy alternatives, as well as a long-standing commitment to shared services,” said Freeholder-Director Aubrey A. Fenton. “If we can parlay these initiatives into even greater cost savings for our taxpayers and towns, all the better.”

As part of the energy-saving measures, the Commission would sponsor applications on behalf of the County as well as all of its agencies with regard to obtaining grant monies through the state for energy audit programs and implementing recommendations that result from those audits. Ultimately, the Commission plans to extend the offer to all Burlington County municipalities and

As an initiative of the Bridge Commission’s economic development efforts, staff has been researching various programs related to energy conservation and formulation of an energy master plan. Through this process the Commission learned about the Local Energy Audit Reimbursement Program offered by the NJBPU as well as programs offered as a result of recently enacted legislation providing incentives to local governments to install solar panels on buildings.

“This is ‘going green’ in more ways than one,” said Vice Chairperson Priscilla B. Anderson. “We can actually have a free energy audit—that is, if the energy efficiency recommendations in the audit are implemented, we will be reimbursed the remaining 25% of the energy audit cost.”

Chairman Comegno added, “We’re proud to partner with the Freeholders in their attempts to incorporate green energy savings in county facilities. Once again, we’re out in front with an idea that will save Burlington County taxpayers money.”

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 $13 million dollars.
 
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For immediate release, 10/21/08

Tapping In-house Talent Saves Commission Millions
Commission Supports Freeholder Economic Recovery Program


Palmyra—At its October meeting, Burlington County Bridge Commissioners commended its staff for successful replacement of the trolley wire system at the Burlington Bristol Bridge, a job the Commission historically outsourced to outside contractors. 

 “Performing this job with in-house staff saved the Commission $100,000, but it’s just one example of how we save our taxpayers and toll payers money,” said Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II. “With the talent we have right here, the Commission is getting much of its work done without the expense of outsourcing. Efforts like these allow us to keep our tolls down.”

Bridge Commission staff members routinely perform skilled work which previously required outside contractors. Examples of other in-house projects include: 

  • welding of support brackets on the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge
  • building of the environmentally friendly shared-services vehicle wash bay system in Palmyra
 
Commission staffers worked 130 feet above the roadway
 (which is another 200 feet above the water). During construction, 
there was live traffic on the span with absolutely minimal delays to the traveling public.
 
Maintenance staffer Kenny Lallo is seen here atop the Burlington-Bristol Bridge after new copper wire and timbers were installed as part of the trolley wire system replacement. The job was performed exclusively by Bridge Commission staff.
  • repair of the spindles on the 1,000-foot Palmyra Cove Nature Park pedestrian bridge
  • complete rebuilding and rewiring of the Commission’s 50-year-old “Bridge Open” sign.
 “The key is hiring qualified people and offering them training to expand their skills, and then challenging them with projects at which they can excel,” said Commissioner Treasurer James E. Fletcher, citing the recent trolley wire project as a prime example. “This job required extensive rigging skills, all with a fairly high degree of difficulty—safety was never compromised and the production rate was phenomenal...the job was completed in 3 days,” added Fletcher.
 
The Commission has in-house experts in these areas:
  • HVAC — one in-house maintenance staff member has HVAC experience and is state-certified.
  • Vehicle maintenance — all BCBC vehicles, including larger commercial trucks like snow plows, are maintained and repaired by qualified BCBC maintenance staff who are experienced in all aspects of automotive repair.
  • Welding — three BCBC staffers are certified bridgewelders, and weld everything from important bridge components to lawnmower parts.
  • Signage — all flat, metal reflective signs on bridge property are designed and produced at the Commission’s in-house sign shop.
 
Commissioner and Vice Chair Priscilla B. Anderson praised the maintenance staff for their flexibility and willingness to learn and do new things. “To say we value our employees is an understatement,” she said. “And the quality of their work is just fantastic. Some of these people could open up their own businesses if they wanted to.” 
 
Commission maintenance staff also performs routine bridge maintenance that other similar agencies might outsource. This includes weekly and monthly inspections of bridge roadway surfaces and components and biweekly bridge lubrications of gear boxes and folding walkways. All work is done in addition to the maintenance crew’s regular duties of upkeep for all bridge commission buildings, landscape, and other property.
 

Workers atop the Burlington-Bristol Bridge replaced all 13 timbers, 
after pre-fabricating them in the maintenance shop.
  
Commission Supports Freeholder Economic Recovery Program
 
Chairman Comegno also detailed the Commission’s role in the Freeholders’ six-point “Economic Response Plan” to address the impact of the current fiscal crisis on county taxpayers. Commissioners voted unanimously to allocate $500,000 for a revolving loan fund for low-interest loans to small businesses in the county.
 
“Freeholder-Director Fenton has come up with a plan to provide almost immediate economic relief to our citizens and has once again asked us to partner with the Freeholders to benefit our citizens. I couldn’t be more pleased to recommend that the Commission stand shoulder to shoulder with the Freeholders and earmark $500,000 in economic initiative funds for low-interest loans for businesses in our County.” said Comegno. “Now more than ever, small businesses need our help. And these low-interest loans couldn’t come at a better time.”
 
Commissioners also asked its economic development staff to solicit and prepare aggregate financing programs for towns in Burlington County for the purpose of refinancing existing municipal bonds at lower interest rates, which will result in additional tax savings for residents in those towns. Comegno noted that the Freeholders already work cooperatively with the bridge commission, by lending the County guaranty, to save tax dollars by reducing the cost of financing capital projects through pooled financings.
 
Commissioner Treasurer Fletcher, who also serves as Deputy Mayor of Maple Shade, supported the Commission’s plan to provide interim financial assistance to arrange for the purchase of new bond anticipation notes when municipalities encounter difficulty in selling bonds in the bond market. “By lending the County’s strong ‘AA’ bond rating, municipalities can save as much as $150,000 over the life of the borrowing of $5 million,” Fletcher said.
 
“We’re doing more for less, we’re not raising tolls and we’re working with the Freeholders to offer news ways to save our taxpayers and toll payers money,” said Chairman Comegno. “And in today’s fragile economy, that’s a home run.”
 
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 $13 million dollars. 
 
For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.
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For immediate release, 9/15/08
Bridge Commission Invests in Technology Upgrades
No Toll Increase Budget Provides for Boost in Bridge Monitoring, Increased Security
 
Palmyra—Bridge Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II announced today that the Commission has approved two projects that will significantly improve operations at the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge and Burlington-Bristol Bridge. The first project, a new fiber-optic and wireless communications system, will greatly enhance the Commission’s ability to monitor the safety and security of its bridges. The second will provide the Commission with a portable toll collection system which can be used in emergency situations.
 
“We’re adding a high-speed, fail-safe link that will take connectivity between our two bridges to a new level,” said Comegno. “And a ‘portable toll plaza’ is cutting-edge technology that’s part of a larger disaster recovery plan.”            
 
“More than $2 Million in the Commission’s capital budget, which has been approved by the state and which reflects no toll increase, is earmarked for technology,” said Commissioner/Treasurer James E. Fletcher. “Maintaining safe bridges is our core mission—and our budget and these new initiatives clearly reflect that.”
 
The new “fiber infrastructure project” will upgrade the existing wireless communications system (which includes security cameras) on the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge and include high-speed road and waterway sensors, new wireless antennas, and sophisticated supports for the smart-bridge technology being installed in partnership with Drexel University.
 
Vice Chairwoman Priscilla B. Anderson added: “The new system will be faster—four times faster—with less chance of failure because there will be backup reinforcements built into the system, so if one link fails another will carry the transmission successfully.”
 
The Commissioners also passed a resolution approving the purchase of computer equipment for implementation of a moveable rack of “lane controllers” that would become operational within hours of a disaster or other catastrophic shutdown of the regular toll lanes. These would provide a backup for toll systems at both bridges, allowing the Commission to maintain toll and data collection and providing uninterrupted traffic flow for motorists. Waytek, Inc., the West Berlin firm that installed the original electronic toll equipment in 2001, was awarded the contract for this additional work.
 
“These upgrades and additions are yet another step we’re taking to bring the ultimate technology to our historically significant bridges,” Comegno said. “As I’ve said in the past, there’s nothing more important than the safety of our bridges—and the people who use them.”
 
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 $13 million dollars. 
 
For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, extn. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

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For Immediate Release, 8/18/08
Commission & DEP: 50 Acres Saved From Future Dredging
Palmyra Cove Nature Park Agreement Finalized

Palmyra—Today, Burlington County Bridge Commissioners John B. Comegno II, Priscilla B. Anderson, and James E. Fletcher approved a resolution authorizing execution of the amendment to the “Management Rights Agreement” for Palmyra Cove Nature Park that saves 50 acres from disposal of dredge materials. The finalized agreement between the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s Tidelands Resource Council and Bridge Commission reflects modifications to the original 1998 agreement, which authorized the use of up to 70 of the park’s 250 acres as a dredge deposit site.
 “This is yet another example of how government can work together to solve pressing issues and save a local environmental treasure,” said Bridge Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II. “It took the cooperative efforts of the DEP, the Tidelands Resource Council, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Burlington County Freeholders, and the Commission to make this agreement a reality.”  

“Cementing this commitment is crucial to Palmyra Cove’s future as an outdoor environmental classroom,” Clara Ruvolo, park Executive Director said. “And extending the term of the original agreement extends the life of the park as well,” added Ruvolo, referring to the amendment to the Management Rights Agreement which restarts the 30-year term of the original agreement, effectively extending the new agreement to 2038. 

This is what the 20-acre cell at Palmyra Cove Nature Park looked like, after receiving dredge materials last August.

   
The amendment to the agreement, which is also expected to be approved by the Burlington County Freeholders, memorializes promises made in August 2007 by NJ Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa Jackson, to limit the disposal of dredge materials to an existing 20-acre cell in the Nature Park. That was followed by unanimous approval by the Tidelands Resource Council last December.
 
Chairman Comegno added, “Commissioner Jackson’s leadership made this happen. From her presence here for a public meeting last August to all the negotiations with the Army Corps of Engineers, we’re grateful.  As I have stated before, our goal was to save the Nature Park. And we did just that.”
 
The Burlington County Bridge Commission manages the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges, and manages Palmyra Cove Nature Park, which has hosted more than 11,000 students from 60 different schools to date. Approximately 3,000 students visit each year.
 
For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, extn. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.
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For Immediate Release 8/1/08
FOX-29 TV’s Dorothy Krysiuk Highlights Commission's Vehicle Wash System
Environmentally Friendly Wash System is Commission's Latest Shared Service

Palmyra—FOX-29 TV's Good Day Philadelphia recently visited the Burlington County Bridge Commission for a firsthand look at our environmentally friendly car wash. On Friday, August 1, traffic reporter Dorothy Krysiuk spent several hours with us and delivered nearly twenty live morning traffic reports and updates, beginning 5 AM till 9 AM, directly from the Commission’s maintenance garage at the base of the Tac-Pal Bridge, as Dorothy referred to it.
Cameras rolled while municipal vehicles—fire trucks, police emergency vehicles, dump trucks, and sewerage authority vehicles from Maple Shade, Riverton, Riverside, Delran, and Cinnaminson—were washed clean. While FOX 29 was on the air, Cinnaminson’s fire trucks sped off to respond to an emergency, but later rejoined Krysiuk before the morning broadcast ended. Krysiuk herself got into the act by picking up a scrub brush to wash the Riverton Fire Company’s Engine 10.
 
Krysiuk twice reminded viewers of the $2 toll on the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, the least expensive bridge crossing between New Jersey and Pennsylvania in the area—still known as the “best bargain around.”
As if on cue—in full view of FOX’s live cameras—the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge twice opened for passing shipping traffic floating beneath the bridge on the Delaware River.
 
Krysiuk even showed off to morning viewers a personalized helmet shield given to her by Cinnaminson’s firefighters declaring her the department’s “Traffic Chief”.
 
Cinnaminson’s Mayor Ben Young and fire chief Bill Kramer praised the BCBC’s move to open the vehicle wash to municipal vehicles. Chief Kramer pointed out that the wash is especially helpful to his fire department during the winter. Mayor Young revealed that Cinnaminson planned to spend thousands building its own wash system.

The Burlington County Bridge Commission constructed the vehicle wash system proactively, in response to new rules from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Municipal Stormwater Regulation Program that will become effective March 2009. By then, each municipality must have a plan for tasks like washing vehicles covered in road salt, a contaminant that cannot lawfully be added to the public sewer system.
 

While the new vehicle wash system helps the BCBC comply with the new rules, the Commission is offering use of its vehicle wash system to all Burlington County municipalities free of charge—as part of its ongoing shared services programs, which have already saved Burlington County taxpayers more than $13 million dollars. 

Burlington County municipalities can now comply with the DEP’s new rules without the building their own expensive washing facility—about $400,000 to $500,000—or using costly commercial wash services, which run about $2,500 to $5,000 per year.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, extn. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

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For Immediate Release 7/22/08
Bridge Commission Secures Grants of $190K for Three Towns
Agency Stresses No Toll Increases While Saving Taxpayers Money

Palmyra—The Commission today announced that as a result of its and the County Freeholders’ efforts, Burlco towns of Maple Shade, North Hanover, and Westampton recently received $190,000 in Grants from two NJ agencies. Thanks to grant applications sponsored by the Burlington County Bridge Commission, through its improvement authority powers, each of the three towns received $50,000 in Smart Future Grants from NJ’s Department of Community Affairs, while North Hanover also received another $40,000 grant from NJ’s Department of Agriculture’s Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) bank.  
 
“Grants are found money for cash-strapped towns,” said Commission Chairman John B. Comegno, II. “And my fellow commissioners and I are proud to be able to continue to help Burlington County residents with economic development and tax-saving efforts like these—all while expanding our aggressive bridge maintenance program and offering no toll increase,” added Comegno.
 
“Cutbacks in State aid are having a devastating impact on our municipalities, so it’s imperative that the Freeholders and Bridge Commission do anything and everything on the shared services’ front to assist towns in mitigating the impact on taxpayers,” said Freeholder Director Aubrey Fenton.
 
Maple Shade’s grant, in the “Reconnecting Your Community” category, will be used for an access study that will examine current modes of travel throughout the municipality, including opportunities for public transit. Specifically, the township wants to look into linking its two redevelopment areas with the rest of the community and its governmental and public facilities, including parks and schools.
 
“The residents of Maple Shade are the real winners here,” said Lou Manchello, Maple Shade Mayor, “because many of our residents will benefit from no toll increase and from a grant that will literally transform how they get around their town.” 
 
Funds from North Hanover’s “Agriculture Retention and Farmland Preservation Plan” grant will be used to assist the town’s efforts to control development, preserve farmland and the local agriculture industry, and maintain its rural community. The TDR grant will be used to further local planning efforts as North Hanover seeks to develop and implement a Transfer of Development Rights program. This program allows owners of preserved land to sell their property’s development rights, which permanently restricts the land from further development.
 
“We want to maintain our agricultural heritage and the small-town feel we enjoy,” said North Hanover Mayor Michael Moscatiello, “but we can’t ignore that growth is all around us.” He says the TDR grant will allow his town to be forward-thinking and look at all options for planned growth.
 
Westampton’s “Community Visioning” grant will provide funding to engage local residents in a consensus building process to develop a vision for the future of their community and neighborhoods. This includes creation of a final report as well as facilitation of public meetings.
 
“Thanks to the Bridge Commission, we have the resources to determine the best of the [Route] 541 corridor,” said Donna Ryan, Westampton Township Administrator. “Without the Commission’s help, we would not have been able to submit the application for this grant.” 
 
The Commission engaged the East Windsor-based firm of Community Grants, Planning and Housing (CGP&H) to write and submit the application, given their expertise in soliciting county, state, federal, and private sector grant and low-interest loan programs. In its work with the Bridge Commission, CGP&H has obtained nearly $850,000 in grant monies for economic development, planning, and redevelopment projects in Maple Shade, Riverside, Riverton, Palmyra, North Hanover, and Westampton, a return on investment of 11 to 1.
 
The Burlington County Office of Economic Development and Regional Planning also assisted the Commission in its efforts to secure these funds.
 
In addition to grant-writing services, the Bridge Commission also offers other shared services initiatives, including:
  • free use of the Commission’s vehicle wash system for police and public works vehicles, which will ensure municipalities’ compliance with new stormwater regulations from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. This will save towns an average of $2,500 to $5,000 per year in fuel and other costs which would be involved with washing vehicles at more remote locations.
  • low-cost pooled capital finance plans (savings of more than $11 million since 2002)                              
  • a recently completed two-pronged Shared Service initiative aimed at (1) determining the dollar impact of the Governor’s planned cuts on the 26 small towns affected most and (2) providing these towns with the information they need to determine if that impact can be offset by the $32 million in shared services grant money available from the State.
 
For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

 
For Immediate Release 7/16/08
Cinnaminson First to Clean Up at Commission’s Vehicle Wash Bay
Will Save Municipalities Thousands & Keep Contaminants out of Water Supply

Palmyra—Cinnaminson’s public works truck will make the inaugural splash this Friday, July 18, at 10 AM, when it will be the first to take advantage of the Burlington County Bridge Commission’s environmentally friendly vehicle wash system. Back in April, Bridge Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II announced that the Commission would offer its wash system to area municipalities—free of charge as part of the Commission’s ongoing shared services programs.  

“Offering this shared service will save towns an average of $2,500 to $5,000 per year, depending on their size,” said Comegno, citing the cost incurred by outside services like car washes for police and other municipal vehicles.
 

BCBC Maintenance Staffer Glenn McManus shows Bob Morris how to use the Bridge Commission's vehicle wash system, which Bob said "took no time at all." 

The wash system, which is located within the Commission’s maintenance building, can accommodate vehicles and other equipment and was constructed as a result of new stormwater regulations from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (NJDEP) Municipal Stormwater Regulation Program which required each municipality to establish its own stormwater pollution prevention plan.
 
“This is what shared services is all about,” said Cinnaminson Mayor Ben Young. “The Bridge Commission is saving the taxpayers of Cinnaminson thousands of dollars in fuel and other costs which would be involved with washing our vehicles at a remote location,” he added, referring to the Pemberton wash system offered by the County. “This is just a marvelous idea.”
“We hear a lot of talk these days about ‘shared services,’ ” said Commissioner James E. Fletcher, “but the Bridge Commission has literally been helping towns realize millions of tax dollar savings by its shared services and economic development initiatives.”  He added that another wash facility is planned for the Burlington City area, near the Commission’s Burlington-Bristol Bridge maintenance area.  
 
Other shared services initiatives include:
  • low-cost pooled capital finance plans (savings of more than $11 million since 2002)   
  • a recently announced two-pronged Shared Service initiative aimed at (1) determining the actual dollar impact of the Governor’s planned cuts on the 26 towns expected to be affected and (2) providing these towns with the information they need to determine if that impact can be offset by the $32 million in shared services grant money
  • regular meetings of the Shared Services Forum, a group of elected and appointed public officials who look for opportunities to share services and programs in order to create financial savings for taxpayers

Bob Morris, Cinnaminson Township public works employee, shows Cinnaminson Mayor Ben Young how quickly he can wash a vehicle this size---in just 3 to 4 minutes with the Bridge Commission's vehicle wash system.

 
For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.
 
 
For immediate release 6/17/08
Bridge Commission Awards Contract for Rancocas Creek Clean-Up
County & Commission Combine Resources to Fight Flooding
Southampton — The Burlington County Bridge Commission joined with the Burlington County Freeholders today in announcing that the long-needed removal of debris from the Rancocas Creek would begin with the award of a major contract to a Malaga, New Jersey firm.
 
 
Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II was joined by Freeholder Stacy Jordan in making the announcement during a press conference on the banks of the Rancocas in downtown Vincentown, where homes and businesses have been ravaged by heavy floods in 2004 and 2007.

Standing in front of one of the debris fields, located behind Allen's Oil in Southampton, are Burlington County Bridge Commissioner Priscilla B. Anderson, Burlington County Freeholder Stacey F. Jordan, Southampton Mayor Jim Young, Bridge Commission Acting Executive Director John Jeffers, and Bridge Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II.


“This is a shared services initiative of the highest order,” said Jordan. “By removing the downed trees and other debris, hopefully we can begin to address the flooding issues that plagued the Rancocas for years, and caused millions of dollars of damages to homes and businesses.”
 
Comegno said that the Commission would award a contract to NuPump Corporation of Malaga, NJ, a professional tree removal service which was the lowest qualified bidder of the five companies that bid for the contract, during its regular monthly meeting, which followed the press conference.
 
Work is expected to begin in the next two to three weeks, and will involved the removal of some 41 debris fields in the 1.4-mile Reach 1 of the Creek which runs from Vincentown Mill Dam to Landing Street in Southampton. The anticipated completion is in October. 
 

John Scillia, the engineer from GSE (Garden State Engineering) who has done extensive work surveying the creek, points to one large obstruction in the creek, located just next to the Landing Street bridge in Southampton.

“As I’ve said all along, part of our mission is to assist the taxpayers of Burlington County in any way we can,” said Comegno. “Bearing the cost to clear these obstructions is also our commitment to being a good neighbor, especially to those families who have been driven from their homes.
 
“Before it’s over, we will be addressing clean-up work in three other reaches of the creek, impacting not just the residents of Southampton, but also Medford and Lumberton,” Comegno added. “And with the County’s assistance, and the towns’ cooperation, we will undertake and complete a project that is already regarded statewide as a one-of-a-kind venture.”
For immediate release 5/29/08
REPORT: BurlCo’s Small Towns Unfairly Targeted For Municipal Aid Cuts
Communities Already Embrace Shared Services’ Opportunities
 

Mt. Holly—Burlington County’s 25 small municipalities are being unfairly targeted for massive cuts in State aid despite the fact that they routinely share many cost-saving services with one another and enjoy per capita spending levels below the statewide average.

That was the summary of a report released today by the Shared Services Forum administered by the Burlington County Bridge Commission’s economic development authority in partnership with the Burlington County Freeholders.
 
State Senator Philip E. Haines (8th Dist) and Assemblyman Joseph Malone (30th Dist.), both of who sit on legislative budget committees, accepted copies of the report during a press conference in Mount Holly. Also attending were Mayors John Gural of Palmyra, Kim Brown of Tabernacle, and Thomas Harper of Wrightstown.

Click on the image above to read the full report
 
“No one is really sure what the Governor’s final proposal will be with regard to State aid to municipalities,” said Freeholder Director Aubrey A. Fenton. “But we do know this – cutting aid to Burlington County’s smallest towns can not be justified.
 
“Last month the freeholders adopted a budget that cut taxes while continuing to provide services to the towns,” Fenton added. “The Governor would balance his budget on the backs of these small towns and their property taxpayers.”
 
Fenton was joined by Burlington County Bridge Commissioner John B. Comegno II, who said the commission, through the Shared Services Forum, began compiling data on shared services from the towns in February, with the objective of assisting towns in pursuing grant funding to study other shared service opportunities.
 
This was after Governor Corzine proposed cutting 100 percent of Consolidated Municipal Property Tax Receipts Aid (CMPTRA) to towns with populations less than 5,000, and 50 percent of this aid to towns with populations under 10,000.
“The Governor made it clear that this was all part of a strategy to force towns to engage in shared services and consolidations,” said Comegno. “But what we found is that our towns have already seized many shared services opportunities, and are operating efficiently.
 
“We have vowed to assist towns in their shared services pursuits, and several are actively looking for new ways to consolidate and save tax dollars,” Comegno continued. “But at the same time, we’re calling on the legislature to maintain municipal aid at current levels.”
 
The report indicated that 24 of the 25 communities enjoy a per capita spending average of $874.50, significantly less than the statewide average of $1,221 and far less than cities such as Camden (1,800) and Newark (2,300), which were not targeted for aid cuts.
 
The State aid cuts vary from less than $30 per household in Bordentown Township and Mansfield, to $1,800 in Wrightstown and $1,268 in New Hanover.
 
The report includes a lengthy compilation of current shared services, both between towns and through the County. It notes that towns share a variety of services, including courts, EMTs, animal control, tax assessors, construction code officials, trash collection services, and public safety mutual aid.
 
Several towns are investigating other shared service initiatives; eight are looking at sharing or consolidating police.
 
Fenton and Comegno said the report would be shared with the municipalities, since the compilation of shared services information could assist towns in identifying new cost-saving initiatives.
 
“We recognize that the budget battle is far from over,” said Fenton. “But this proposal has created havoc for the towns, many of which haven’t adopted budgets because of the uncertainty.
 
“Financial decisions of this magnitude should be planned and carefully calculated,” he said. “That didn’t happen here.”
 
Senator Haines and Assemblyman Malone said they were seeking restoration of the formula aid.
“In my 24 years in the legislature I have never seen a proposal so ill conceived,” said Malone. “It is mean spirited to be going after small municipalities. If these cuts are enacted it will deal them a crushing blow from which they will never be able to recover.”
 
Both legislators said the County report was the most comprehensive they have seen since the budget debate in Trenton began.
 
“You’ve given us the ammunition we need,” said Haines. “We have 25 small towns here in Burlington County that are operating efficiently. The Governor either did not know the facts, or chose to disregard them, when he made his proposal.”
 
Mayor Harper said he felt that he, and his fellow Wrightstown residents, were “being punished because we chose to live in a small community,” while Mayor Gural added that the report “articulates what every mayor in every small town has been saying for the past month – the State aid cuts are arbitrary and unfair.”
 
Mayor Brown said Tabernacle faced a dilemma of its own as a Pinelands community. The town has been receiving only $148 a year in State relief aid for pinelands communities, is located 100 percent in the Pinelands, has 50 percent of its land owned by the State, “yet is now being told we must pay to have State police patrol. It’s just one insult after another.”
 
All three mayors said they were intent on seeking additional shared services initiatives, but most proposals required considerable study, and the results are not always tax savings.               
 
 
For Immediate Release 5/20/08
No Toll Increase for Tacony-Palmyra & Burlington-Bristol Bridges
Bridge Commission Bridges Still “The Best Bargain Around”
Palmyra—Burlington County Bridge Commissioners announced today that there would be no toll increase on its two toll bridges, all while expanding the Commission’s aggressive bridge maintenance program, including the addition of “smart technology,” and continuing its economic development and tax-saving efforts.
 
“I’m not sure what I’m more proud of,” said Bridge Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II. “The fact that our bridges have the ultimate aggressive capital and maintenance programs, or the fact that we can do all we’re doing at no additional cost to our tollpayers.”
 
“We are still the best bargain around,” said Commissioner/Treasurer James E. Fletcher, “and economic development initiatives have saved Burlington County taxpayers millions of dollars—$13 million, to be exact.”
 
One highlight of the Commission’s aggressive capital program of bridge maintenance is a partnership with Drexel University which will bring cutting-edge research and the ability to incorporate 21st-century technology into current maintenance projects. Students are already using the historically significant structures as the basis of their research projects.
 
“The Commission’s stated mission is ‘to provide…safe, accessible, and affordable bridges,’” Vice Chairwoman Priscilla B. Anderson added. “Our maintenance program ensures that our bridges are safe and having no toll increase keeps our bridges affordable to the motoring public. More than ever, our toll payers need a financial break.”
 
Freeholder Director Aubrey A. Fenton agrees. “Holding the line on tolls sends another powerful message to Burlington County commuters and taxpayers that we are serious about controlling pocketbook issues in this difficult economic atmosphere,” said Fenton. “Freeholders set the standard this year when they reduced the amount of taxes needed to run County government.  The bridge commission is meeting that standard by holding the line as well.” 

“At a time when people are being asked to pay more for just about everything, we are not only holding the line on a toll increase, but also expanding our outreach with economic development dollars,” Chairman Comegno said. “You could say we’re saving people money coming and going.”

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

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For Immediate Release 5/1/08
Bridge Commission Receives Burlco Chamber’s “Voice of Business” Award for Economic Development Initiatives
Commission Has Saved Burlington County Taxpayers $13 Million Dollars

Burlington County Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Richard J. Pokrass and President/CEO Kristi M. Howell-Ikeda present the Chamber’s “Economic Development Award” to Burlington County Bridge Commissioner/Treasurer James E. Fletcher (center).
Columbus—The Burlington County Bridge Commission was honored with the Economic Development Award from the Burlington County Chamber of Commerce at its “Voice of Business” Awards Dinner held here last night. The Economic Development Award recognizes an organization that has demonstrated proactive involvement in promoting business/community growth or revitalization in Burlington County. 

“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.” 
 
Over the past several years, the Commission has obtained $658,800 in grant monies to assist municipalities with community development and revitalization projects. 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, an additional $550,000 in grant funding is also pending. 

 “As Treasurer, I look not only at the dollars coming in, but the return on our investment—what did it cost us to receive those funds?” said James E. Fletcher, the Commission’s lone Democrat who recently assumed the role of Commission Treasurer. “For the work CGP&H has done so far, our return on investment is 11 to 1. That’s fiscally impressive,” Fletcher added.

 

Commissioner/Treasurer Fletcher reported on other projects the Bridge Commission is involved in including cooperative efforts with the County of Burlington to relocate the Fort Washington Expo Center to the South Side of Rte. 73 (which has the potential to generate up to $150 million annually), planning and infrastructure assistance for Riverside’s redevelopment activities, undertaking a “Streetscape Project” which brought new lighting and sidewalks to Main Street in the Borough of Palmyra, and much-needed technical and financial support to devastated communities of Lumberton, Southampton, and Medford due to flooding of the Rancocas Creek.  
 
 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.

“By hosting regular Shared Services Forums, the Commission keeps its finger on the pulse of our towns,” said Gary LaVenia, director of the Commission’s improvement authority operations.
 
“Those 28 forums have brought 926 attendees from 40 Burlington County municipalities—and a recent special meeting gave town officials a chance to talk about the effects of state aid cuts and brainstorm possible solutions,” LaVenia added. He said that discussion will culminate in an analysis and report on shared services opportunities for small towns, those most affected by state aid cuts.

The Burlington County Bridge Commission manages the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges as well as five other minor bridges in the area. Through its economic development and improvement authority powers, the Commission 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 $13 million dollars.

 

 

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

 
For Immediate Release 4/15/08
 Bridge Commission Offers Municipalities Tangible Shared Services Solutions 
 Use of Commission’s Vehicle Wash System Will Save Municipalities Thousands a Year
 Palmyra—At the Burlington County Bridge Commission’s April meeting, Chairman John B. Comegno II hosted a tour of the Commission’s maintenance facility and announced that the Commission will offer its environmentally friendly vehicle wash system to area municipalities. Commissioners also announced that they have ordered Commission staff to explore additional ways we can share with neighboring towns in an effort to alleviate financial pressure placed on them by the Governor’s planned state aid cuts.
  
“Offering this shared service will save towns an average of $2,500 to $5,000 per year, depending on their size,” said Chairman Comegno, citing the cost incurred by outside services like car washes for police and other municipal vehicles. “We’re also planning to open another facility in the Burlington City area, near our Burlington-Bristol Bridge maintenance area.”  
 
 
The wash system, which is located within the Commission’s maintenance building, can accommodate vehicles and other equipment and was constructed as a result of new regulations from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (NJDEP) Municipal Stormwater Regulation Program. That program required each municipality to establish its own Municipal Stormwater Pollution Management Plan, which details how it will handle tasks like washing of vehicles covered in road salt, a contaminant that cannot lawfully be added to the public sewer system, and how it will manage disposal of other water on its site.
  
James E. Fletcher, the Commission’s lone Democrat who recently assumed the role of Commission Treasurer, added, “While many in New Jersey are talking about ‘shared services,’ few know that the Bridge Commission has been spearheading the countywide Shared Services program for the past four years, helping towns realize millions of tax dollar savings.”
  
Other shared services initiatives include:
  • low-cost pooled capital finance plans
  • a recently announced two-pronged Shared Service initiative aimed at (1) determining the actual dollar impact of the Governor’s planned cuts on the 26 towns expected to be affected and (2) providing these towns with the information they need to determine if that impact can be offset by the $32 million in shared services grant money
  • regular meetings of the Shared Services Forum, a group of elected and appointed public officials who look for opportunities to share services and programs in order to create financial savings for taxpayers
Commission Vice Chairwoman Priscilla B. Anderson offered one example of the Commission’s successful shared service, a “Guidance Supplement to the New Jersey Stormwater Best Management Practice Manual,” which was shared with all 40 municipalities in Burlington County to assist them in complying with the NJDEP Municipal Stormwater Regulation Program mentioned above. The 123-page guide, which was created in February 2005, contains maps and sample forms like permit applications and inspection forms.
  

The meeting featured a live demonstration of the “traveler system,” which will greatly improve the efficiency of inspections and maintenance on the Burlington-Bristol Bridge and save the Commission thousands of dollars. Attached to beams inside the Commission’s 18-foot high maintenance building, meeting attendees saw firsthand just how Bridge Commission maintenance staff and engineers will literally “hang from” the underside of our bridges to inspect and maintain the structures.

Among the benefits of using this traveler system:

 

  • reduce need to close traffic lanes (no inconvenience to the motoring public)
  • allow quicker access to underside of bridge
  • reduce need to rent access equipment, like under-bridge cranes (called “snoopers”), and not subject to terms of its availability 
  • save money—cost to rent traveler system for one month is what it cost to rent a snooper for one day

 

The traveler system consists of a platform that rolls, or “travels,” along the underside of the Burlington-Bristol Bridge, and a motorized system that moves vertically along the length of the bridge and spans the entire width of the bridge.

“We believe our maintenance staff is second to none,” Chairman Comegno said. “It was their idea to use the traveler system; and I said at the meeting, we have a highly skilled team that is doing the essential work that keeps our bridges running smoothly and efficiently—and most importantly, keeping our bridges the safe structures they are.”

 

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 $13 million dollars.

 

 

 

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For immediate release 3/19/08
 Bridge Commission Takes “Bridges to the People”— Meeting Held in Burlington City
Drexel Presents Plans for Cutting-Edge Technology
Burlington City—The Burlington County Bridge Commission’s March meeting was held at the Tabernacle Baptist Church Multipurpose Center in Burlington, part of the Commission’s commitment to making meetings more accessible to the public and part of the public information program aimed at educating the public about the Commission’s capabilities and successes. 
  
“When we said we would bring the bridges to the people, this is what we meant,” said Chairman John B. Comegno, II. “And how fitting it is that this year’s first off-site meeting is hosted by the Tabernacle Baptist Church, given that the Bridge Commission, through its improvement authority powers, provided the means for the church to secure tax-free financing for construction of its new multipurpose center,” Comegno added.
  
“Our previous attempts at securing financing were unsuccessful, so without the loan program offered by the Bridge Commission, we literally would not have been able to build this wonderful facility,” offered Ed Campbell, Jr., representative for the Tabernacle Baptist Church. 
  
“This is the next logical step in the Commission’s attempts to be open, transparent, and accessible—I first asked that we hold meetings in the evenings,” Commissioner James E. Fletcher said. Now we’re ‘taking it on the road.’ We want all of Burlington County to see firsthand how our operations and controls are sound and how they’re improving every day.”
  
Drexel Takes Bridges to the Future
Following up on the aggressive capital program of bridge maintenance outlined at the February Commission meeting, Drexel University Professor Franklin Moon, Ph.D., shared how the Bridge Commission will benefit not only from Drexel’s cutting-edge research but also its ability to put into practice the smart technologies resulting from that research.  
  
“Talk about getting bang for your buck,” Vice Chairwoman Priscilla B. Anderson said. “We’re getting all this expertise from a premier engineering university in the country, and pushing the frontiers of basic research at a bargain.”
  
Commissioner Fletcher, who also serves as the Commission’s Treasurer, noted that according to his research, hiring a company in private industry to provide the same service would cost five times as much.
  
Dr. Moon provided an overview of the projects planned for the coming year, also highlighting that the Commission’s bridges are historically significant landmark structures. “These structures are significant to the history of the area—in all we do to incorporate the technology of the 21st century to these bridges, we also consider their historical significance.” 
  
Also in attendance today is the Burlington County Historical Society, which not only recognizes the great historical significance of these bridges, but also acknowledges the historical importance of this meeting being held off Bridge Commission property. The last meeting known to be held off-site was in the late 70s or early 80s when the meeting was held on a PSE&G ship named the “Sun” which was docked at the Burlington waterfront.
  

Chairman Comegno reiterated, “In this ‘New Era, New Span’ at the Bridge Commission, we want everyone to know how meticulously our bridges are maintained and how safety is our number one priority.” He added, “That’s not just something we say—it’s our mission that is reflected in the actions we take and the projects we initiate.”

 

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 $13 million dollars.

 

 

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For immediate release 3/10/08
Work Begins on Joint Shared Services Initiative to Assess Effects of State Aid Cuts
Bridge Commission and Freeholders Survey Towns & Hold Meetings This Week
PALMYRA—As part of the two-pronged Shared Service initiative announced last week aimed at assisting towns in staving off local property tax increases, the Burlington County Bridge Commission, in cooperation with the Burlington County Freeholders, sent surveys to township officials in affected towns and will host a meeting of the 26 “small” municipalities most impacted by the proposed aid cuts in Governor Corzine’s State budget proposal.
  
Having engaged the services of East Windsor-based firm of Community Grants, Planning and Housing (CGP&H), Bridge Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II and Freeholder Director Aubrey Fenton said that CGP&H’s first step is information gathering, which began with surveys sent Friday, March 7 to township officials in affected towns.
  
With input due back today, March 10, CGP&H will first analyze and determine the actual dollar impact of the Governor’s proposals on the 26 towns expected to be affected by the Governor’s plan and then prepare aresponsewhich will be provided to the Governor, legislators and other key decision makers. The report will be completed within 30 days so it can be utilized in state budget hearings and negotiations.
  
The Bridge Commission will also host a meeting of the 26 “small” municipalities (those with fewer than 10,000 residents) most impacted by the proposed aid cuts. The meeting, which will be held in the Classroom of Palmyra Cove Nature Park on March 12 at 2 PM, will include updated information on the status of the proposed cuts, opportunities for township officials to discuss their needs, information about known grant opportunities which may assist municipalities in meeting this new challenge, and the opportunity to network with peers and gain insight into how others are impacted and how they plan to respond.
  
Comegno and Fenton said that CGP&H was also being asked to evaluate the Governor’s plan to provide these towns the first opportunity to secure a share of $32 million in shared services grant money as a means of offsetting the lost State aid.
  
“Under the Governor’s proposals, Burlington County is facing a huge tax burden,” said Comegno. “Our mission is to first provide an assessment of what the actual dollar impact is and then provide detailed information as to what grant monies are available for what specific initiatives and how to properly process appropriate grant applications.”
  
“With so many towns now facing a funding crisis, accompanied by incentives, if not State pressure, to maximize their shared services’ opportunities, it’s only logical that the County, along with the bridge commission, provide whatever assistance we can,” Fenton said.
  
David Gerkens, Vice President for CGP&H, is confident his firm can assist and anticipates no problem meeting the Commission’s deadline for a report in approximately thirty days. “We have expertise in soliciting county, state, federal, and private sector grant and low-interest loan programs,” Gerkens explained. “We’re prepared to give this assignment the highest priority.”
  
In its work with the bridge commission, CGP&H has obtained more than $658,000 in grant monies for economic development, planning, and redevelopment projects in Riverside, Riverton, Palmyra, and North Hanover. 

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 savings of approximately $13 million.

 

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For immediate release 2/29/08
Joint Shared Services Initiative Responds to Governor’s Budget Message
Bridge Commission and Freeholders Offer Assistance to Towns Targeted for State Aid Cuts
 PALMYRA—With more than half of Burlington County’s municipalities facing huge cuts in State aid under Governor Corzine’s State budget proposal, the Burlington County Bridge Commission, in cooperation with the Burlington County Freeholders, today announced a two-pronged Shared Service initiative aimed at assisting towns in staving off local property tax increases.
  
Bridge Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II and Freeholder Director Aubrey Fenton said that the Riverton-based firm of Community Grants, Planning and Housing (CGP&H) has been engaged to analyze and determine the actual dollar impact of the Governor’s proposals on the 26 towns expected to be affected by the Governor’s plan.
  
Comegno and Fenton said that CGP&H was also being asked to evaluate the Governor’s promise of providing these towns the first opportunity to secure a share of $32 million in shared services grant money as a means of offsetting the lost State aid.
  
“If you look at the Governor’s proposals at face value, Burlington County is facing a huge tax burden,” said Comegno. “But our mission is to provide towns first with an assessment of what the actual dollar impact is, and secondly, with the information they need to determine if that impact can be offset by the grant incentives that the Governor is now putting on the table.”
  
An estimated 26 of Burlington County’s 40 municipalities have population figures under 10,000, making them targets of the Governor’s plan to cut State aid by half or in its entirety. The Governor is hoping these towns will be compelled to enter into more partnerships and consolidations of services with neighboring towns to address their financial shortfalls. 
  
“In cooperation with the freeholders, the bridge commission has been spearheading the countywide Shared Services program for the past four years, helping towns realize millions of tax dollar savings through a variety of initiatives, including low-cost pooled capital finance plans,” said Freeholder Director Fenton. 
  
“With so many towns now facing a funding crisis, accompanied by incentives, if not State pressure, to maximize their shared services’ opportunities, it’s only logical that the County, along with the bridge commission, provide whatever assistance we can,” Fenton said.
  
In that State aid figures are expected to be released, and since municipalities are already on the verge of finalizing 2008 budgets, both Fenton and Comegno said that they realize that time is of the essence. 
  
David Gerkens, Vice President for CGP&H, is confident his firm can assist and anticipates no problem meeting the Commission’s deadline for a report in approximately thirty days.   The initiative will involve reaching out to all 24 municipalities, to assess their financial situation and concerns.
  
“We have expertise in soliciting county, state, federal, and private sector grant and low-interest loan programs,” Gerkens explained. “With the second largest spending cut in New Jersey’s history looming large, we’re prepared to give this assignment high priority.”
  
In its work with the bridge commission, CGP&H has obtained more than $658,000 in grant monies for economic development, planning, and redevelopment projects in Riverside, Riverton, Palmyra, and North Hanover.

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 savings of approximately $13 million.

 

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For immediate release 2/20/08
Bridge Commission Announces 2008 Agenda
Palmyra Expo Center Formally Named Top Economic Development Priority
Palmyra—At the February 20th Commission meeting, Chairman John B. Comegno II unveiled the Bridge Commission’s agenda for the year. Included was an aggressive capital program of bridge maintenance, next steps in the implementation of internal controls and other reform initiatives (“New Era, New Span”), and the debut of “Bridges to the People.”
  
Commissioners also passed a resolution making the relocation of the Fort Washington Expo Center to Palmyra the Commission’s first economic development priority. This resolution directs Commission staff to undertake any work necessary to effectuate the relocation to the south side of Rte. 73.
  
“Bringing the Expo Center here would be an economic boon to Palmyra and surrounding areas, and the potential infusion of dollars will spread to the rest of Burlington County,” said Chairman  Comegno.
  
“Of all the economic development projects we’ve championed, we’re most excited about this one—the potential benefit to Burlington County’s economy is astounding. That’s why we’re today adopting a resolution formally directing our staff and professionals to take any and all steps to assist in this project,” added Vice Chairwoman Priscilla B. Anderson, who was recently sworn in to another three-year term.
  
Following with the Commission’s unswerving commitment to safe bridges, Chairman Comegno reiterated that the Commission will continue its aggressive 2008 Capital Program which will include work to the south abutment of and bearing replacement on the Burlington-Bristol Bridge and replacement of the grid deck and addition of smart technology to the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge. Improvements scheduled for the Burlington-Bristol Bridge will elevate that structure’s sufficiency rating, achieving the highest possible rating this historically significant bridge can enjoy.
  
The Commission also announced that its “New Era, New Span” program will take further shape. Reforms already implemented continue, the Commission’s new website (same address—www.bcbridges.org) was just launched today, and additional initiatives are planned. These include a Vendor Code of Conduct being drafted by the Commission’s solicitor and a first-ever Commission meeting to be held off bridge property next month, one of the many “Bridges to the People” initiatives. Commissioners directed staff to locate a site in the northern part of the county and promptly advertise the location, all as part of efforts to make meetings more accessible to the public. 
  
“This is the next logical step in the Commission’s attempts to be open, transparent, and accessible to our users—I first asked that we hold meetings in the evenings,” Commissioner James E. Fletcher said. Now we’re ‘taking it on the road.’ We want all of Burlington County to see firsthand how our operations and controls are sound and how they’re improving every day.”

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 $13 million dollars. 

 

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For Immediate Release 1/15/08
Vice Chair Anderson Sworn in for Second Three-Year Term
Commission Announces First-Ever Smart Technology on Burlington-Bristol Bridge
Urges Federal Railroad Agency to Approve Relief of Horn Noise in Riverton & Palmyra
Palmyra—The January 15th Commission meeting began with the swearing in of Commissioner Priscilla B. Anderson, current Vice-Chair of the Burlington County Bridge Commission. Serving since October 2004, Anderson was reappointed by the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders at their December 28th meeting to serve a second term. Anderson’s appointment continues through October, 2010.  
  
Anderson’s fellow Commissioners echoed the sentiments of those assembled, offering congratulations on her reappointment. Chairman John B. Comegno II said, “I have worked alongside Commissioner Anderson for a year now, and have appreciated the experience and insight she has brought to the Commission. I am glad that she will continue to serve and share her wisdom with us.”
  
Anderson, who was sworn in by newly elected State Senator Phil Haines and former Commission Chairman J. Garfield DeMarco, received praise from Commissioner James E. Fletcher, the lone Democrat on the Commission: “I appreciate Commissioner Anderson’s collaborative style. Her experience as president of the NJ Association of Elected Women Officials—a bipartisan organization of women—has uniquely qualified her for her work with the Commission.”
  
Among Anderson’s public service highlights: NJ Assemblywoman (District 7), Vice-Chair of the Assembly Veterans Committee, Assistant Majority Whip, Mayor of Willingboro, Willingboro Town Councilwoman.  A retired educator, Anderson is a graduate of The College of New Jersey with Bachelors and Masters degrees in Education.
 
Vice-Chairwoman Anderson commented on her reappointment: “I look forward to continuing my work at the Bridge Commission, helping to ensure that what has already been put into practice continues—we’ve raised the bar. And I will help the Commission reach that higher level of expectation.”

 

 

First-Ever Smart Technology Brought by Drexel/Commission Partnership
The Bridge Commissioners announced that as part of the Commission’s 2008 Capital Improvement Plan, “smart technology” will be incorporated into the bearing replacement project scheduled for the Burlington-Bristol Bridge. The bearings, which will be superior to those used in the original bridge construction, will have “load cells” inside which transmit data to Commission engineers, allowing for real-time monitoring.  

 

This state-of-the-art system is a result of the Bridge Commission’s partnership with Drexel University, which 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. (Bridge Commission bridges are inspected annually, over and above NJ DOT requirements for inspections every two years.)
  
Chairman Comegno said, “I believe this is the first time smart technology has been used on any bridge along the Delaware—that we’re the first makes me extremely proud.” He also commended Commission staff and his predecessor Commissioners for a long history of unparalleled bridge maintenance including a proactive and extensive maintenance schedule.
  
Smart technology will ultimately save the Commission money as well. Newly sworn-in Vice Chairwoman Anderson pointed out that being proactive is the key: “It’s like spending a hundred dollars for an annual check-up with your doctor, versus spending thousands of dollars on surgery. Taking care of your health will ultimately save money and prolong your life. It’s the same with bridges.”
  
David Lowdermilk, Vice President for Pennoni Associates, Inc., the resident engineers for the Burlington County Bridge Commission, presented the details of the upcoming projects. “Not only will we be installing this ‘smart technology,’ we’ll also be making repairs to the south abutment of the Burlington-Bristol Bridge,” said Lowdermilk. “This item will change the classification of the Burlington-Bristol Bridge to ‘not deficient,’ the best classification a structure such as this one can enjoy,” Lowdermilk added.

Dr. Frank Moon, one of the Drexel University experts involved in the partnership between the school and Pennoni Associates, participated in the presentation and helped further explain the state-of-the-art monitoring.  

 

Commission Urges Federal Agency to Approve Horn Relief Proposal 
The Commission also adopted a resolution supporting a New Jersey Transit application that would limit light rail horn blowing and ultimately improve the quality of life of residents in Palmyra and Riverton. New Jersey Transit applied for a waiver of certain Federal Railway Administration (FRA) regulations that will create a 1.1-mile “Bell Zone” for the RIVER LINE in Palmyra and Riverton.

 

Commissioner Fletcher, who has previously asked New Jersey legislators to join him in leading the cause on behalf of the residents and businesses, is passionate about this issue: “It’s been estimated that there are 700 light rail audible warnings a day—and that’s just over the 8 grade crossings in Palmyra and Riverton. We’re happy to stand by our neighbors in Palmyra and Riverton and support New Jersey Transit’s application to address an issue of such concern.”   

The Burlington County Bridge Commission manages the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges, and through its economic development and improvement authority powers extends pooled financing options to local governments and nonprofits in Burlington County. These initiatives have resulted in a savings of approximately $13 million dollars.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, extn. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

 

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For Immediate Release 12/18/07
Tidelands Council Amends Agreement
Preserves Additional 50 Acres of Nature Park

Palmyra—At its December 18th Commission meeting, Burlington County Bridge Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II announced that a modification to a 1998 agreement has been approved, effectively reducing the size of the dredge deposit site at Palmyra Cove Nature Park from 70 to 20 acres and restarting the 30-year term of the agreement.  

 

Back in August, NJ Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa Jackson agreed to limit the disposal of dredge materials to an existing 20-acre cell in the 250-acre Nature Park, even though a 1998 agreement with the Tidelands Resource Council authorized the use of up to 70 acres for this purpose. On December 5th the Tidelands Resource Council unanimously approved the agreement modification.

 

“As I have stated in the past, our goal was to save the Nature Park. And we have,” Chairman Comegno said. “This is a win-win situation—the Cove can continue its mission as an outdoor classroom and we have an agreement protecting an additional 50 acres of the park.”  Comegno praised Commissioner Jackson for making that agreement a reality, saying “She promised and she delivered.” 

 

The agreement also restarts the term of the original agreement, which was signed in 1998. Rather than ending in 2028, the modified agreement will extend until 2038, once it is signed by Commissioner Jackson early next year. 

 

Clara Ruvolo, Palmyra Cove Nature Park Executive Director, is also pleased with the Tidelands decision: “Protecting 50 of the park’s 250 acres was first and foremost—and by re-extending the term of the original agreement, the life of the park has been extended as well.”  She added, “And we would be willing to work with the Commissioner in the future, in the development of a comprehensive and environmentally responsible plan for the disposal of dredge materials.”

 

The Burlington County Bridge Commission manages the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges, and manages Palmyra Cove Nature Park, which has hosted more than 11,000 students from 60 different schools to date. Approximately 3,000 students visit each year.

 

 

Aboard the U.S. Army Corp’s dredge ship McFarland, Captain Karl.A.VanFlorcke points out the location of dredging operations to (from left) Irene Kropp, Assistant Commissioner, NJ DEP; Clara Ruvolo, Palmyra Cove Nature Park Executive Director; Lisa P. Jackson, Commissioner, NJ DEP; and Suzanne Dietrich, Chief, NJ DEP Office of Dredging and Sediment Technology.
 
For more information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, (856) 417-4088 (cell).

 

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For Immediate Release 11/28/07
Bridge Commission Reorganization: Comegno Reappointed Chairperson
Lone-Democrat Commissioner Fletcher Named Treasurer

Palmyra—At its November 27th reorganization meeting, the Burlington County Bridge Commissioners re-elected John B. Comegno II to serve a second one-year term as Chairperson, elected Priscilla B. Anderson to the position of Vice-Chairperson, and elected James E. Fletcher of Maple Shade, to the position of Treasurer.

“As I have said in the past, my goal has been to bring a new look and fresh perspective to the Bridge Commission. Given the Commission’s reforms in this new era of transparency and accountability, it makes good sense to work collectively in a non-partisan way to involve the Commissioners more closely in the Commission’s financial operations,” Chairman Comegno said. “And I appreciate that Commissioner Fletcher not only suggested that the treasurer position be distinct from the secretary position, but also stepped up to assume this important office.”

“I believe my experience in formulating and managing budgets and finances at the local level can be a great help to the Commission,” said Fletcher, who has served on the Maple Shade Township Council for seven years and has served as Mayor and Deputy Mayor as well. “I appreciate my colleagues’ vote of confidence in me to serve as Treasurer of the Commission.”

In other business, the Commission adopted its annual notice of meetings, indicating third Tuesdays of each month as Commission meeting dates. Evening meetings that began at Commissioner Fletcher’s suggestion will continue and will alternate with 12:30 and 6 PM start times.

Chairman Comegno commended his fellow Commissioners for 100% meeting attendance this past year and reminded all that this coming year, the Commission will hold some meetings at outside locations as part of the “Bridges to the People” program announced by the Commission at its September meeting. At that meeting, Comegno stated that, “I am going to make it my business to get the message out about the good we do and how those positive initiatives can benefit the taxpayers of Burlington County.”

The Burlington County Bridge Commission manages the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges, and through its economic development and improvement authority powers extends pooled financing options to local governments and nonprofits in Burlington County. These initiatives have resulted in a savings of approximately $13 million dollars.

 

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For Immediate Release 11/19/07
Commissioners Staff Booth at League of Municipalities Conference
Public Servants Meet and Greet Attendees in First Steps of “Bringing Bridges to the People”

Palmyra—As part of the Burlington County Bridge Commission’s new public outreach program, Commissioners were at the Commission’s exhibitor’s booth at the New Jersey State League of Municipalities annual conference at the Atlantic City Conference Center this week. In keeping with the Commissioners’ desires to be accessible public servants, Chairman John B. Comegno II, Vice Chairwoman Priscilla B. Anderson, and Commissioner James E. Fletcher attended the conference to meet and better know their constituents.

The idea came at the suggestion of Commissioner Fletcher, the Commission’s lone Democrat, who has championed the Commission’s conducting evening meetings for increased public accessibility and now suggested this move, something not previously undertaken by Bridge Commissioners. “My fellow Commissioners and I didn’t just visit the conference—we spent time at the Bridge Commission’s exhibit booth meeting and talking with those we serve,” Commissioner Fletcher said. “We really did bring the bridges to the people,” he added.

The Commissioners’ presence at the New Jersey State League of Municipalities 92nd Annual Conference, which was first announced at the Commission’s October 16th meeting, was part of the new public information program aimed at educating the public and township officials about the Commission’s capabilities and successes—from safe bridges with proactive and technologically advanced maintenance programs, to the role of the Commission’s improvement authority, to the impact the Commission’s economic development efforts have had on Burlington County taxpayers.

 



The Bridge Commission had an exhibitor's booth at this year's New Jersey State League of Municipalities Conference. Providing information about the Bridge Commission were (from left) Priscilla B. Anderson, Commission Vice Chairwoman; Marie Ozalis, Bridge Commission; Clara Ruvolo, Executive Director, Palmyra Cove Nature Park; and John Jeffers, Acting Executive Director, Bridge Commission. 

 

Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II said that attendance at this conference is a continued attempt by the Commission to share information about its reforms and new era of transparency and accountability. “The appearance by me and my fellow Commissioners at this conference isn’t just for looks—-I’ve said before that we’ve taken a ‘fresh perspective’ at the Bridge Commission and this is an opportunity for our taxpayers, our tollpayers, and our elected officials to see that for themselves,” said Comegno.

The Bridge Commission’s exhibit featured information about the Commission, its Improvement Authority operations, and Palmyra Cove Nature Park, both on promotional slideshows and in printed educational materials.

Through its economic development and improvement authority powers the Burlington County Bridge Commission extends financing to local governments in the county, offering financing options including lease purchase and governmental loan financings designed to achieve a lower cost of capital money through economies of scale, lower interest rates, and/or lower cost of issuance. Those initiatives have resulted in a savings of approximately $13 million dollars.

Palmyra Cove Nature Park is a 250-acre nature preserve (maintained by the Commission) that serves as an outdoor environmental classroom for the 11,000 students who have visited to date. Located in a highly developed area on the Delaware River, PCNP is open to the public year-round, 7 days a week and has a 10,000 square-foot Environmental Discovery Center (featuring interactive exhibits), woodlands, and wetlands (including a tidal marsh, tidal creeks, a pond, a 1.25-mile wild river shoreline, and 8.5 miles of trails.)

The New Jersey State League of Municipalities, comprised of all 566 NJ municipalities, is a voluntary association created to help communities do a better job of self-government through pooling information resources and brain power. At the League’s 90th Annual Conference, delegates have the opportunity to learn and ask questions at more than 100 panels, clinics, workshops, and other sessions conducted by the League and the 18 associations of technical and professional employees allied with it. Commercial, government and association exhibits display the latest products and services for municipal government.

 

For more information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224, (856) 417-4088 (cell).

 

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For Immediate Release 10/18/07
New Public Information Program Takes Bridges to the People
Commissioners Order First-Ever Annual Report

Palmyra—At its October 16th meeting, the Burlington County Bridge Commission unveiled a new public information program aimed at educating the public and township officials about the Commission’s capabilities and successes—from safe bridges with proactive and technologically advanced maintenance programs, to the role of the Commission’s improvement authority, to the impact the Commission’s economic development efforts have had on Burlington County taxpayers.

As part of this program, Bridge Commissioners will canvas Burlington County by attending municipal meetings, using technology to enhance communications with local officials, and hosting “town hall” type meetings at the Commission headquarters.

Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II said that despite the efforts by the Commission to share information about its reforms and new era of transparency and accountability, “The Burlington County Bridge Commission remains misunderstood. It’s obvious to me after almost a year in my position that we need to do more to educate the community.” Comegno added, “I am going to make it my business to get the message out about the good we do and how those positive initiatives can benefit the taxpayers of Burlington County.”

Through its economic development and improvement authority powers the Burlington County Bridge Commission extends financing to local governments in the county, offering financing options including lease purchase and governmental loan financings designed to achieve a lower cost of capital money through economies of scale, lower interest rates, and/or lower cost of issuance. Those initiatives have resulted in a savings of approximately $13 million dollars.

As part of the Commission’s outreach program, Commissioners will attend the New Jersey State League of Municipalities* annual conference in Atlantic City, NJ, next month. In keeping with the Commissioners’ desires to be accessible public servants, Commissioners will take shifts behind the Bridge Commission’s exhibitor’s booth to afford an opportunity for conference attendees to meet and better know the Commissioners.

That idea came at the suggestion of James E. Fletcher, the Commission’s lone Democrat, who has championed the Commission’s conducting evening meetings for increased public accessibility. “My fellow Commissioners and I aren’t just visiting the conference—we’ll be at the Bridge Commission’s exhibit booth to meet and talk with those we serve,” Commissioner Fletcher said. “This is one more way for us to bring the bridges to the people,” he added.

In addition to attending public municipal meetings and holding meetings with elected township officials in the County, Commissioners have also ordered the creation of a first-ever Annual Report. Printed copies will be provided to all Freeholders and elected officials in Burlington County, and a copy will also be posted to the Commission’s website.

The Commissioners have also directed that the Commission’s ten-year-old website should be updated, not only in design, but navigation as well. Information never before available will be added, such as human resource listings and job applications, and the content will be arranged in a more user-friendly manner. One change visitors won’t be able to see is the ability that Commission staff will now have to make nearly all changes in-house, nearly eliminating the need for outside contractors to make content changes to the site.
Chairman Comegno reiterated, “I’ve said before that we’ve taken a ‘fresh perspective’ at the Bridge Commission. I won’t stop until our taxpayers, our tollpayers, and our elected officials see that for themselves.”

*The New Jersey State League of Municipalities, comprised of all 566 NJ municipalities, is a voluntary association created to help communities do a better job of self-government through pooling information resources and brain power. At the League’s 90th Annual Conference, delegates have the opportunity to learn and ask questions at more than 100 panels, clinics, workshops, and other sessions conducted by the League and the 18 associations of technical and professional employees allied with it. Commercial, government and association exhibits display the latest products and services for municipal government.

For more information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, (856) 417-4088.

 

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For Immediate Release 10/17/07
Commission Seeks Full Restitution from Stears

Palmyra—Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II announced today that he forwarded a letter to the United States District Court asking that the sentencing judge order Robert Stears, former Commission spokesperson, to fully compensate the Bridge Commission for losses suffered as a result of Stears’ overbilling the Commission between 1997 and 2002 and to place a lien on any of Stears’ property or assets under federal law.

“Given Mr. Stears’ admissions during his plea hearing last year, there is no question that the Commission is entitled to full restitution from him. And the Court has full power and authority to order Mr. Stears to do just that,” stated Comegno.

In addition to the request to the court, Comegno highlighted the previous direction from all three Bridge Commissioners including James E. Fletcher and Priscilla B. Anderson that an evaluation and analysis be conducted of alternatives the Commission could pursue to recover monies lost as a result of Stears’ illegal activities.

“In addition to filing a formal demand with governmental authorities as early as March, 2007, requesting that Mr. Stears be ordered to fully reimburse the Commission, we also directed that claims be made with our own insurance companies for our losses and that a thorough analysis be conducted by special counsel Parker McCay to see if any companies or other individuals might be responsible to the Commission,” added Comegno.

“Based upon the analysis and recommendations of counsel and the Stears plea itself, there is no evidence to persuade us to pursue court actions against any other individuals or entities. Simply put, we won’t waste our toll payers’ dollars by filing a lawsuit that has no reasonable prospect of success,” said Comegno.

The Commission received an opinion from Parker McCay, special counsel retained to conduct the analysis, which states that since there is no evidence to suggest that either the corporation (the Strategy Group) or its shareholders/partners other than Stears were involved in the fraud, and that the Strategy Group maintained no insurance to cover Stears’ illegal activities, that seeking full restitution from Stears provides the only realistic possibility of recovery for the Commission. The Parker McCay analysis also noted that the authorities have not taken action against the Strategy Group or any of its other owners or employees.

Parker McCay also concluded that while the Commission appears to be well-insured for liability issues and matters appropriate for a public authority, insurance carriers do not provide coverage for criminal acts by third parties.

Comegno noted that the Commission has also implemented recommendations recently made by Milligan and Co., a management consulting firm hired at the request of the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders, that the Commission put policies and procedures in place for greater oversight over vendors’ billing and performance.

“Make no mistake about it. We won’t rest until all checks and balances and internal controls are put in place to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” concluded Comegno.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, extn. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

 

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For Immediate Release 10/12/07
Bridge Commission Unveils Improvement Projects in Host Communities
Burlington City & Palmyra Get Gateway and Streetscaping “Makeovers”

Palmyra—Ribbon-cutting and groundbreaking ceremonies were held Friday, October 12 and Monday, October 15, to officially dedicate two Burlington County Bridge Commission projects in the communities that host the Commission’s Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges. The Gateway Project in Burlington City and Streetscaping in Palmyra are both part of the Commission’s Economic Development efforts, which benefit towns in Burlington County and ultimately result in taxpayer savings.

On Friday, October 12, the groundbreaking officially opened the Gateway Project in Burlington City. Gathered at the entrance circle to the Burlington-Bristol Bridge, with the bridge as the backdrop, were Bridge Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II; Burlington City Mayor Darlene A. Scocca; Burlington City Council President Joseph Van Loan; and Burlington City Council Members Edward Canivan, Helen Hatala, and Marie Lollar.

“The Commission is very excited to be partnering with Burlington City,” said Chairman Comegno. “We really value our relationship with Burlington City—this project highlights how productive that partnership is.”

The Gateway Project will include such improvements as concrete pavers, traffic islands, block walls, lighting, and landscaping. It will also widen the turning area of Veterans Drive, to allow proper clearance for tractor-trailers that use this roadway.

Commissioner James E. Fletcher said, “This project shows how mindful the Bridge Commission and Burlington City are of welcoming our tollpayers not only to Burlington City but to the State of New Jersey as well.”

On Monday, October 15, a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place in Palmyra at the corner of Broad Street and Legion Road to celebrate the Streetscaping Project there. On hand were Palmyra Mayor John Gural along with representatives from the Neighborhood Preservation Program, including Rita Jackson, NPP Coordinator; and NPP Advisory Committee members Jeane Butler and Mary Holloway. Palmyra Council member Theodore Scott and Fran Scott, his wife, also attended, as did Palmyra Administrator Marriane Hulme; Stan Ozalis, Palmyra School Board member; and residents Sharon Peters and Harriet Nickens.

 

 

The Streetscaping Project encompasses Broad Street from Market Street to Route 73, finishing the improvement work that Palmyra Borough had completed further down Broad Street. The cost of the project was completely covered by the Bridge Commission, as part of its economic development efforts in the community that is home to its Tacony-Palmyra Bridge. Planning began in late 2006 and the project actually began this past August.

The project will include sidewalks, brick pavers, period lighting (to match the existing lighting), and landscaping. Currently, the project is stalled, awaiting approval from PSE&G relative to electrical needs for lighting.

The Burlington County Bridge Commission manages several Burlington County bridges, including the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges, and through its economic development and improvement authority powers, extends financing options to local governments and nonprofits in Burlington County. These initiatives have resulted in a savings of more than $13 million in taxpayer dollars.

For more information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, extn. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

 

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For Immediate Release 9/26/07
Dredging Project Complete at Nature Park---Commission Pushes Agreement to Save 50 Acres

Palmyra—-The Burlington County Bridge Commission announced today that maintenance dredging operations that began on August 20, and included deposits of dredge materials into Palmyra Cove Nature Park, have been completed by the United States Army Corp of Engineers. The Commission also announced that NJ Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa Jackson has indicated that she is in favor of a new agreement with the Burlington County Bridge Commission that would reduce the area for any future dredge deposits from 70 acres to 20 acres.

Of the dredging operations, Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II said, “This was truly a cooperative effort with a great deal of respect shown by the parties involved—not just in how the agreement was forged, but how the whole project was handled, start to finish. The Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Burlington County Bridge Commission all deserve to be complimented for their work, but especially for their work together. This is another example of how governmental agencies can work together to achieve a common goal.”

Clara Ruvolo, Palmyra Cove Nature Park Executive Director, added, “The Army Corps of Engineers lived up to its promise to preserve Dragonfly Pond, and accomplished a difficult job with as little disruption to the park as possible. I appreciate the effort by everyone involved to maintain this outdoor classroom which is prized by so many.”

In August, Commissioner Jackson agreed to limit the disposal of dredge materials to an existing 20-acre cell in the Cove, even though a 1998 agreement with the Tidelands Resource Council authorized the use of up to 70 acres for this purpose. Commissioner Jackson and representatives of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers held a meeting at the Commission’s headquarters in mid-August to explain the maintenance dredging project and stressed that it was an emergency maintenance dredging project and was totally unrelated to what is commonly known as “channel deepening.” The Bridge Commission will be working with the Department of Environmental Protection on finalizing the agreement, which will then go to the Tidelands Resource Council for formal approval.

Comegno added, “As I stated at the last Commission meeting, our goal was to save the Nature Park. And we have.”

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, extn. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

 

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For Immediate Release 8/31/07
Bridge Commission Announces Release of Management Study
Recommendations Already in Motion

Palmyra---Burlington County Bridge Commissioners John B. Comegno II, Priscilla B. Anderson, and James E. Fletcher announced that the independent management and contract review requested by the Board of Chosen Freeholders is complete and that all of the recommendations provided by Milligan & Company, LLC, the Philadelphia firm conducting the study, already have or will be implemented by the Commission immediately.

“In direct response to the Freeholders’ request for a management assessment and review, we not only acquired the services of an independent consulting and accounting firm, but we also took the next important step—-recommendations from that report have either already been implemented or soon will be,” said Chairman Comegno. “I have submitted the report to the Freeholders and have advised them that Commissioners Anderson, Fletcher, and I are united in our commitment to ensure that the appropriate controls, checks and balances, and procedures are in place at the Commission.”

The Milligan study included a review of the Commission’s current management structure, resolutions, and checks and balances primarily relating to the Commission’s contracting processes and contracts. The process that led to the awarding of the contract to Milligan began with the issuance and advertising of a “Request for Qualifications” from prospective firms, which was followed by a “Request for Proposals” from qualified firms. Two firms were interviewed by the Commission Chairman and other staff. Milligan & Co. was awarded the contract at the Commission’s April meeting and provided the recommendations to the Commission within the expected timeframe and under-budget.

The Commission has already enacted Milligan recommendations which include:

• A reporting and monitoring process for contractors to report on progress of various contracts.
• The inclusion of all procurement documents within a contractors’ file so that their performance can be easily tracked and monitored.
• Preparation of written evaluation criteria for all vendor proposals and bids received.
• Verification of timely receipt of vendor proposals and bids (i.e., all proposals to be stamped when received).
• Review and sign-off of vendor invoices by user departments and/or individuals.
• Consistent indication (as “paid”) on all invoices and related supporting documentation after payment is made.

The Commission also identified recommendations which are in the works and will be implemented as soon as possible:

• Development of a formal procurement manual to govern the award of contracts.
• New contractor change order processes to include written procedures about pre-approval and other work authorizations.
• Establishing estimates for services needed before bidding and keeping those estimates in the contract files.

Fletcher, the Commission’s lone Democrat, who has championed the Commission’s conducting evening meetings for increased public accessibility, added, “The reforms we’ve put in place are part of our efforts to make the Commission a model agency of transparency and accountability.” Referring to the program initiated a few months ago called “A New Era, A New Span,” Commissioner Fletcher said, “These reforms demonstrate our bi-partisan commitment to ensuring the public’s confidence in the Commission’s activities while we continue to provide the cost-effective services our citizens deserve and pay for.”

The reforms Fletcher refers to include mandatory ethics and conflicts training, distribution of a new Code of Ethics and Conduct, continued evening Commission meetings, expanded Commission web-site with more information for the public, continued awarding of all contracts through open and competitive procurement methods, and public advertisement for job openings which are all approved in public meetings.

“When it comes to ethics and accountability, there simply is no compromise,” concluded Chairman Comegno.

The Burlington County Bridge Commission owns, operates, and maintains the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges, and through its economic development and improvement authority powers, extends pooled financing options to local governments and nonprofits in Burlington County. These initiatives have resulted in a savings of approximately $13 million dollars.

For information, contact: Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, cell (856) 417-4088.

 

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For Immediate Release  8/21/07
In-depth Inspections Confirm Bridges are Safe
Engineers Deliver Preliminary Findings at August 21 Commission Meeting

Palmyra—Pennoni Associates, Inc., the resident engineers for the Burlington County Bridge Commission, provided the results of their preliminary findings from the in-depth inspections done on the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington Bristol Bridges over the past few weeks and have confirmed results from inspections completed earlier this year that the bridges are safe for the motoring public.

“As I have said in the past, these bridges are extremely well-maintained by the Commission. The public can be assured that they are safe,” said Pennoni Vice President David Lowdermilk, who noted that the field inspections on the spans are more than 90 per cent complete and that nothing out of the ordinary has been found. “It is also noteworthy that the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge also received an unequivocal “not deficient” rating from the NJDOT when data from in-depth inspections conducted in June, 2006 was entered into their system.”

Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II said, “I have a new appreciation for the ‘bearing replacement project’ that was completed this past December on the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge as well as the detailed and diligent work that goes into inspecting, maintaining and repairing our bridges.” At the meeting, Pennoni’s Lowdermilk explained that the bearing replacement project upgraded the Tacony Bridge’s superstructure rating from a ‘4’ to a ‘5’ which ultimately resulted in the ‘not deficient’ rating.”

The preliminary report provided to the Commissioners was in response to their ordering, in the wake of the Minnesota tragedy, fast-tracked inspections which would normally have been conducted next June. The presentation by the Commission’s engineers included actual close-up photos of inspectors on the bridges’ spans over the past few weeks and included shots of the high-tech inspection methods the Commission uses.

“As a contractor’s representative myself, I appreciate the in-depth and hands-on approach taken by the professionals at Pennoni to make sure our bridges get the attention they need. These guys actually use dental mirrors to help them view areas not able to be seen easily. That’s very impressive, considering they’re inspecting a structure that’s over a half-mile long and sits nearly 60 feet above the river,” added Commissioner James E. Fletcher of Maple Shade.

Drexel University experts were also on hand to expand on the recently announced partnership between the school and Pennoni Associates by referencing three-dimensional images representative of the state-of-the-art monitoring and modeling Drexel plans to use to take Commission bridges into the future. Among those are techniques that Drexel has already implemented in its work on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Lowdermilk concluded, “There’s been much talk about sufficiency ratings. And while we’ve said that those ratings serve as a guideline as to what repairs may be necessary, what we’re showing you today is more important than those numbers—we are showing exactly what work has been and continues to be done to continually inspect and improve these historically significant structures.”

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, extn. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

 

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For Immediate Release 8/7/07
Commission and Drexel to Partner on Bridge Monitoring and Inspections
Commission Orders Immediate In-Depth Inspections of Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington Bristol Bridges

Palmyra—-In the wake of the Minnesota disaster, Burlington County Bridge Commissioners John B. Comegno II, Priscilla B. Anderson, and James E. Fletcher announced today that beginning this week, the Commission’s engineers will undertake in-depth inspections on the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges. The Commission also announced that its lead bridge engineer, Pennoni Associates, will partner with Drexel University to work with them to explore, recommend, and implement any new technologies for monitoring and testing that could further enhance an already rigorous monitoring, inspection, and repair program.

“Even though our bridges both underwent regular inspections this past May, we are fast-tracking the in-depth structural inspections that were originally scheduled for next year and performing them immediately instead. We’ll do whatever it takes to ensure that our bridges are safe,” said Commission Chairman Comegno. “And we couldn’t be more pleased to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with researchers from Drexel University, one of the premier engineering schools in the country.”

About the partnership between the Commission’s engineers and Drexel University, Drexel Dean of Engineering Selcuk Guceri added, “We’re thrilled to work with the engineers from Pennoni Associates and the Bridge Commission to help them explore and implement new and innovative inspection, monitoring, maintenance, and repair programs and processes. We’ll support them in any way possible, and we applaud the Commission for its quick action.”

“We believe that any work done here may have a broad impact across the country,” added Guceri.

The hands-on, in-depth inspections, which are scheduled to begin on Thursday, include “non-destructive” testing, which looks at fault-critical connections, the parts of the bridge that take on the most stress. While this testing always included high-tech methods like ultrasound, x-rays, and dive penetration for bridge inspections, the partnership with Drexel University will bring even more innovative and high-tech methodology to the monitoring, inspection, and evaluation processes.

“The Commission already has a more aggressive schedule of bridge inspections than most agencies,” added Commissioner James Fletcher. “This latest initiative does even more to ensure the safety of the users of our bridges” Fletcher noted that all Commission bridges undergo engineering inspections annually—above and beyond the Federal Highway Administration and NJ DOT requirements which require inspections only every two years.

Inspection of the Burlington-Bristol Bridge will begin Thursday, August 9, and is scheduled to be completed during off-peak commuter hours. Inspection of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge is expected to take place next week and is currently slated to be completed during evening hours with little or no affect on bridge traffic. Bridge officials also noted that in reviewing the “ratings” of bridges which have been widely reported on, the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge was given a “Not Deficient” classification.

“The classifications widely talked about since the Minnesota disaster are somewhat misleading,” said Pennoni vice president David Lowdermilk. “Just because a bridge is classified as structurally deficient does not mean it is unsafe for the motoring public. The bottom line is it’s all about maintenance---and I can unequivocally say that the Commission’s bridges are well maintained.”

For information, contact: Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, extn. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

 

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For Immediate Release 8/3/07
Commission Ensures Motorists That Bridges are Safe

Palmyra—In the wake of the Minnesota disaster, Burlington County Bridge Commissioners John B. Comegno II, Priscilla B. Anderson, and James E. Fletcher issued the following statement today: “Our bridges are safe and our inspection, repair, and maintenance programs are second to none.”

“The Commission’s first priority is to provide for the safety of the users of its bridges. All eight Commission bridges undergo engineering inspections annually--above and beyond the Federal Highway Administration and NJ DOT requirements which require inspections only every two years,” said Chairman Comegno.

Those inspections are the first critical step in the Commission’s aggressive maintenance and repair program, which has resulted in tens of millions of dollars in necessary bridge repairs being made to date. Among the projects completed over the past few years:

+ bearing replacement project at the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge
+ replacement of steel track plates on the bascule span (part of the bridge that opens for boat traffic) of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge
+ replacement of submarine termination cable boxes on the bascule span of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge (keeps span opening properly)

Upcoming projects, which are part of the Commission’s aggressive preventive maintenance program, include:

+ replacement of decking on the bascule span of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge
+ replacement of the remaining bearings on Burlington-Bristol Bridge
+ replacement of bearings on Riverside-Delanco Bridge

“In fact, this year alone, the Commission has budgeted over $20 million for capital improvements to its bridges,” said Commissioner James E. Fletcher of Maple Shade. “Nothing is more important to us than maintaining safe bridges for the people who use them,” he added.

David Lowdermilk, P.E., vice president of Pennoni Associates, the firm that conducts annual inspections for the Burlington County Bridge Commission, said “It all comes down to how you maintain the structure. Of all the agencies we work for, the Bridge Commission is one of the most dedicated and diligent in maintaining its bridges.”

What sets the Commission bridges apart is the programs it has in place to detect needed repairs and implement those repairs as quickly as possible. Among those are:

+ daily presence of a licensed/credentialed resident structural engineer (who has been on site in a full-time capacity for 19 years) unlike most other bridges which only have engineers present for their biannual inspections
+ the engineers who perform the inspections are intimately familiar with our bridges because of their long-term presence on the site
+ annual inspections, which exceed biannual FHA and NJ DOT requirements
+ on-site construction contractor to perform immediate repairs as soon as detected
+ aggressive process to track maintenance needs from identification to completion
+ yearly above-water inspections performed by an independent, multi-discipline team of structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers
+ underwater inspections performed by licensed professional engineers (underwater divers) certified to perform underwater inspections

Lowdermilk added, “Since the bridge collapse in Minnesota, there’s been much talk about sufficiency ratings. It should be made clear that these ratings serve as a guideline as to what repairs may be necessary—they do not indicate that a bridge is structurally unsound for the motoring public. The bottom line—the Commission bridges are safe.”

For information, contact: Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, extn. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

 

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For Immediate Release 7/27/07 
No Toll Increase in Bridge Commission’s 2007-2008 Budget--Fletcher Reports on New Program

Palmyra—Chairman John B. Comegno II, Vice Chairwoman Priscilla B. Anderson, and Commissioner James E. Fletcher are pleased to announce that the Burlington County Bridge Commission’s 2007-2008 fiscal year budget features no toll increase while still maintaining its priority of maintaining, operating, and improving its bridges, facilities, and services.

Chairman Comegno stated, “Our staff has worked very hard to provide the Commission with an essentially flat budget while still providing the same high level of service to the toll-paying public who use our bridges thousands of times per day.”

The $23.7 million operating budget calls for an increase of less than 2% over last year’s budget, and still provides for all of the essential inspections and maintenance on the Commission’s bridges and facilities, vastly exceeding both Federal and State requirements. Because of the Commission’s programs, any necessary repairs are systematically designed, planned and executed.

Commissioner James E. Fletcher also announced the Commission’s new financing program being offered to government entities including school districts. Under the new program called the “Burlington Bank,” which has been endorsed by the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Commission will be able to quickly review and process low-interest loans for governmental entities wishing to finance the acquisition of equipment like computers, vehicles, and books.

“We’re extremely excited about this new initiative,” said Fletcher. “Along with our pooled lending and loan programs, this innovative program will allow us to continue to provide valuable financial and economic development assistance to the citizens of our County.”

Since the Commission obtained economic development and improvement authority powers in 2002, it has provided $340,000,000 in total financing for 23 municipalities, the County, fire districts, and 2 non-profits. These pooled financings resulted in lower interest rates and lower loan costs for 48 public sector participants (some have participated more than once) which has saved taxpayers approximately $13,000,000.

In recognition of his first six months in office, Chairman Comegno also reported on the many positive initiatives undertaken by the Burlington County Bridge Commission, including:

+ retaining the services of Community Grants and Planning which obtained $569,000 in grant monies for economic development, planning, and redevelopment projects in Riverside, Riverton, Palmyra, and North Hanover.
+ working with the Freeholders and the Borough of Palmyra to relocate the Fort Washington Expo Center to the south side of Rte. 73, a project which may completely revitalize the former drive-in site on Rte. 73 near the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge and generate up to $150,000,000 annually in economic development activity for the Route 130 River Route region.
+ continuing to assist municipalities on community development and revitalization projects including:
o Palmyra (streetscape project)
o New Hanover (assistance in development of master plan)
o Beverly (development of land use planning and marketing of housing rehabilitation program)
o Burlington City (“Gateway” project and roadwork infrastructure)
+ hosting 23 Shared Services Forums with 733 attendees representing 39 municipalities from Burlington County, 4 municipalities outside of the County, 2 other South Jersey counties, 23 boards of education, and 5 fire districts.
+ developing and providing (at no cost to our municipalities) storm water management plans to help relieve the monumental financial burdens imposed upon municipalities by State requirements
+ in partnership with the Freeholders and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, initiating a program to provide assistance on the problem of debris which has clogged the Rancocas Creek and has been identified as one cause of the flooding that has devastated those towns.
+ hosted more than 11,000 students from 60 different schools at Palmyra Cove Nature Park.
+ opening a new access road along Route 73 to provide safer and easier access to the Nature Park; this was another collaborative effort with the Freeholders.

The Burlington County Bridge Commission owns, operates, and maintains the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges, and through its economic development and improvement authority powers, extends pooled financing options to local governments and nonprofits in Burlington County. These initiatives have resulted in a savings of approximately $13 million dollars.

 

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For Immediate Release 7/25/07 
Money Even Schools Can Bank On--New "Burlington Bank" Program Helps Municipalities & Schools

Mount Holly—The Burlington County Bridge Commission will update the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders tonight on the progress of its pooled lease and pooled loan financing programs and will also propose a new financing program sponsored by the County and the Commission called the Burlington County Lease Bank (“Burlington Bank”).

The new initiative is designed to provide financial assistance to government entities—including, for the first time, school districts—that have financial needs for equipment and other capital items like computers and furniture. Typically, these acquisitions carry total costs under $1 million, which has been the general minimum threshold for participation in regular aggregate bond transactions.

However, like the pooled lending programs currently offered through the Commission with the County’s guaranty, the latest program offered by the County and the Commission will result in significant savings to the taxpayers of Burlington County.

“This new program fits the bill for government entities with relatively small capital projects for which the Commission’s pooled lease program may not be a cost-effective option,” said Commissioner James E. Fletcher. “But it is especially a boon for school districts that have expressed strong interest in the Commission’s pooled lease program but have been unable to participate because of the structure of those transactions. We’re pleased to announce that if all goes as planned, schools will be able to use the program to purchase books and other equipment for this coming school year.”

Under the program, the Commission will solicit proposals from banks to serve as principal lender for Burlington Bank. The Commission plans to establish the Burlington Bank with an initial annual amount of $20 million. Funds will then be made available, through the Commission, to government entities to finance the lease purchase of equipment.

The Commission and the County will pre-screen applicants wishing to participate in the program and once approved, will receive and quickly process applications to provide funding for equipment within weeks, all at a lower interest rate.

Freeholder Director James K. Wujcik said of the program after receiving initial briefing materials from the Commission, “The Burlington Bank initiative is another program that demonstrates the County’s and Commission’s ongoing commitment to establishing streamlined and cost-effective shared services. And the fact that school districts and our county’s taxpayers will benefit from this new program makes it even more attractive. The bottom line is that the Commission and the County, as a team, are continuing to provide the taxpayers with valuable services while at the same time saving them money.”

If the program receives Freeholder Board endorsement, other steps would be needed to finalize the process and authorize the County’s guaranty. Assuming all approvals are received, the Commission could begin processing applications in September, 2007.

The Burlington County Bridge Commission manages several Burlington County bridges, including the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges and, through its economic development and improvement authority powers, have provided local governments and nonprofits with financing options available through pooled financing programs.

Since 2002, the Commission has issued over $317 Million of bonds for the pooled lease program. By using the credit strength of Burlington County, the Commission’s programs have resulted in overall savings of approximately $13 Million. To date, there have been 48 governmental participants in the program, representing 23 government entities (some entities have participated more than once). Most recently, the Commission issued bonds on behalf of Willingboro and the County of Burlington which alone resulted in a savings of over $1,000,000.

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, extn. 224, cell (856) 417-4088.

 

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For Immediate Release 6/19/07 
Commission Chairman Reports Progress, Announces “A New Era, A New Span”

Palmyra—Burlington County Bridge Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II announced yesterday that the Commission is continuing to implement a reform campaign he called “A New Era, A New Span.” Comegno’s announcement at the June 18th’s Commission meeting followed a letter he sent to the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders late last week summarizing the activities of the Commission during his first five months in office outlining the many positive initiatives which have benefited the taxpayers of Burlington County and the toll payers who use the Commission’s bridges and facilities.

“The reforms we’ve put in place over the past few months are just the beginning of our collaborative efforts with the Freeholders to make the Commission a model agency of transparency and accountability,” said Comegno. “I’m also proud to say that we really have taken a ‘fresh perspective’—not just change for the sake of changing, but reforming our approach, our perspective, and our operations where reforms are needed.”

As part of the reform plan, Comegno highlighted ongoing programs and initiatives including:

• The independent management study being undertaken at the request of the Freeholders which will recommend checks and balances to ensure that vendors/contractors are satisfying their obligations to the Commission;
• Mandatory ethics and conflicts training for all employees and Commissioners once per year as well as mandatory ethics training for all new employees during orientation;
• Formulation and distribution of a new Commission Code of Ethics and Conduct to be signed by all Commissioners and employees and posted on the Commission’s website;
• At the request of Commissioner Fletcher, continued evening Commission meetings;
• Expansion of the Commission website to include contract bidding notices, job openings, meeting schedules, and other important public notices and information;
• Change in Commission By-Laws and policies specifically requiring Commissioners to ensure that the Commission operates in an efficient, transparent, accountable, and ethical manner;
• Continuation of open and competitive procurement policies and contract awards consistent with governing law (i.e., “pay-to-play”) and the implementation of checks and balances that may result from the management study requested by the Freeholders and currently being undertaken by Milligan & Co.;
• Requirement that all non-union job openings be available to the public and approved by the Commission during open public meetings;
• Strict adherence to the Commission’s anti-nepotism policy adopted in 2004 at the request of the Freeholders.

Comegno’s six-page letter to the Freeholder Director James Wujcik also detailed numerous positive accomplishments of the Commission over the past five months including those involving the Commission’s economic development and improvement authority initiatives, shared services forums, environmental initiatives and the Palmyra Cove Nature Park, management and operations, and ongoing programs to ensure transparency and accountability.

The Bridge Commission’s lone Democrat, James E. Fletcher, added, “The Commission has accomplished much in the areas of economic development, shared services, and saving our taxpayers’ money through financing options that the Commission offers. The reforms we’re announcing today will go a long way toward restoring the public’s confidence in the Commission.”

“As I said when I was sworn in early this year, I am committed to taking a fresh look at the way the Commission does business. The reforms announced today are just the beginning. Stay tuned,” concluded Comegno.

For information, contact: Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, cell (856) 417-4088.

 

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For Immediate Release 6/1/07 
Shared Services Forum Draws Officials from 22 Townships

Delran—This month’s meeting of the Burlington County Shared Services Forum, hosted by the Burlington County Bridge Commission, drew more than 65 attendees who came to hear speakers talk about Ethics and ‘Pay to Play’ Laws as well as the county’s employment training program. The Shared Services Forum is a group of elected and appointed public officials who look for opportunities to share services and programs in order to create financial savings for taxpayers. As Gary LaVenia, Shared Services Coordinator, puts it, “Shared Services brings property tax relief.”

Bridge Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II said, “This is yet another example of how the Bridge Commission works with sister governmental agencies to save the taxpayers' money and provide cost-effective services.”

William Kearns, Esq., general counsel to the League of Municipalities and principal in the firm Kearns, Vasallo, and Kearns from Willingboro, provided an intensive “Review of NJ Ethics and Pay to Play Laws” while a presentation on Burlington County’s Management/ Employment Training Program was offered by Dan Hornickel, Director of Human Resources for the County of Burlington, and Lewis Nagey, Director of Business Employment for Burlington County College. The meeting was held at the township’s municipal building.

County and municipal officials as well as fire district and school officials all gathered at the Delran Township Municipal Building, joined by Shared Services Coordinators for Camden and Atlantic Counties. Kevin McClernon, Township Administrator for Burlington Township, said “You can never be current with ethics—it’s always good to be refreshed on this topic,” adding that the day’s session did just that. “I was very impressed with the college program as well,” McClernon added.

Although Shared Services has been receiving increased attention recently and the concept is growing in the state of New Jersey, it is not a new concept or even new practice. For the past twenty years the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholders has proactively developed and offered opportunities to public entities in Burlington County to use the economies of scale to create efficiencies and real cost savings. Some examples of services that can be shared include recreation facilities, animal control, police vehicle maintenance, snow removal, and recycling.

The Burlington County Bridge Commission hosts these bimonthly meetings. Programs are topical and participants can even earn continuing education credits for attendance. The next Shared Services Forum is scheduled for the evening of June 26th (exact time and location to be determined). On the agenda is to start a discussion around the idea of shared services in fire and emergency medical services districts. Speakers are being finalized now; organizers are working closely with fire organization officials to ensure that there are speakers on all sides of the issue.

The Burlington County Bridge Commission manages several Burlington County bridges, including the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges and through its economic development and improvement authority powers has saved Burlington County taxpayers $13 million of dollars by providing local governments and nonprofits with financing options only available through pooled lending.

*Townships Represented:
Beverly
Bordentown
Burlington City
Burlington Township
Chesterfield
Delanco
Delran
Edgewater Park
Evesham Township
Fieldsboro
Mansfield
Medford Lakes
Mt. Laurel
Palmyra
Riverside
Riverton
Shamong
Southampton
Tabernacle
Washington Township
Willingboro
Woodland Township
(Also, Burlington County and Burlington County College)

For information, contact Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224; cell (856) 417-4088.

 

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For Immediate Release 5/23/07 
New Flagpole Dedication Honors Veterans
First Step in Collaborative Plan of Improvements

Burlington—War veterans from the American Legion Post #79 and/or VFW Post #1817 will be joined by Burlington County Clerk Philip E. Haines, Burlington City Mayor Darlene A. Scocca, Burlington City Council President Joseph Van Loan and Councilwoman Marie Lollar for a dedication ceremony of three new flagpoles installed behind the army tank at Commerce Square. The ceremony will take place at 10:00 AM on Thursday, May 24.

Installation of the one 25-foot and two 20-foot flagpoles was completed by the Burlington County Bridge Commission and Burlington City. This improvement is the first in a series of positive changes that will develop a picturesque gateway into Southern New Jersey, which will blend nicely with the historical character of Burlington City.

Burlington County Clerk Philip E. Haines, who will open the ceremony, said, "This display stands as a wonderful tribute to veterans as we head into the Memorial Day weekend. And the improvement itself is the first step in the collaborative plan among the Bridge Commission, the County, and Burlington City to improve the one-mile area at the approach of the Burlington-Bristol Bridge. The 'Gateway Project' will not only beautify this area for commuters and area residents, but also enhance safety for travelers."

Burlington County Bridge Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II, added, “This is yet another example of how government entities can cooperate with one another for the benefit of the public.”

The Burlington County Bridge Commission manages the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges, and through its economic development and improvement authority powers extends pooled financing options to local governments and nonprofits in Burlington County. These initiatives have resulted in a savings of more than $13 million dollars in taxpayers’ money.

For information, contact: Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224; cell (856) 417-4088.


 

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For Immediate Release 5/16/07 
Burlington County Bridge Commission Opens Access Road to Palmyra Cove Nature Park

Palmyra—On Tuesday, May 15, 2007 at 10:00 AM, Burlington County Bridge Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II, formally opened the Commission’s new access road to the Palmyra Cove Nature Park. New Jersey State Senator Diane B. Allen and Burlington County Freeholder Aubrey A. Fenton also attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which featured first graders from Cinnaminson’s New Albany Elementary School taking the maiden voyage on the new “Park Drive.”

“ ‘Park Drive’ will offer a safe and more convenient route for the 6,000 students and other visitors who come to Palmyra Cove Nature Park each year,” said John B. Comegno II. “We’re proud to be an integral part of the Burlington County community by providing the public with enhanced access to a 300-acre nature preserve along the Delaware River.”

“From the beginning, Palmyra Cove has fit nicely into the County’s overall plan to make park development a key component of our Route 130 River Route program,” said Freeholder Aubrey Fenton. “This new access can only enhance the park, and make it more user-friendly to families and school children who visit on a regular basis.”

Clara Ruvolo, the park’s Executive Director, shares the Chairman’s enthusiasm: “This new access road will make it easier for visitors to get to this ‘best-kept secret’—a park in their own backyard, a habitat for hundreds of species including some that are endangered and threatened.”

Senator Allen expanded on Ms. Ruvolo’s statement, referring to the Cove as “South Jersey’s largest outdoor science classroom.” But she also spoke of a pall hanging over the opening “because the Federal government is considering placing dredge materials on some 70 acres.” She added, “Not only will important habitat be lost, but we will diminish the capacity for environmental education at the Cove.”

The senator refers to the recent actions of the US Army Corps of Engineers, which is attempting to expand the disposal site—regardless of the lack of federal funds budgeted for maintenance dredging. Allen also urged everyone to contact their elected officials “and tell them how important it is to act now to protect the established habitat at the Palmyra Cove.” (See attached release for background information.)

The one-mile asphalt road was designed to complement the natural surroundings of the Cove (for example, guardrails made of wood instead of metal) and created with Cove visitors in mind (allowing ample turning space for school buses.) Intended for use by visitors entering and exiting the Cove, the road begins just off the entrance to the Tacony-Palmyra Flea Market on Rte. 73 Southbound and ends at the Cove’s original parking lot. (Upon entrance, flea market traffic continues straight, while Cove visitors will turn right.)

What was previously the only entrance to the Cove will remain open to vehicular traffic. Prior to the creation of the new access road, Cove visitors entered via Temple Boulevard, making a right into the Toll Building parking lot (just before the Toll Plaza), traveling through the parking lot behind the Toll Building to the narrow local access road, and going under the bridge. Likewise, the previously used exit onto Rte. 73 will also continue to be available for vehicular traffic.

The Burlington County Bridge Commission manages several Burlington County bridges, including the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges, and through its economic development and improvement authority powers, extends financing options to local governments and nonprofits in Burlington County. These initiatives have resulted in a savings of more than $13 million in taxpayer dollars.

For information, contact: Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, ext. 224; cell (609) 230-1444.

 

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For Immediate Release 5/14/07 
Secret Unfunded US Army Corps Project Will Destroy Palmyra Cove Nature Park

Palmyra—Despite objections from Federal and State Officials, the US Army Corps of Engineers is planning a stealth operation to expand the dredge disposal site, an act that will destroy the natural habitat at Palmyra Cove Nature Park. Although the park is a designated site for receipt of dredge material from a viable maintenance project of the US Army Corps of Engineers, there are no federal funds budgeted for maintenance dredging. In addition, environmental issues detailed in letters to the Corps of Engineers from the US Fish & Wildlife Services in 2003 and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection in 2004 have yet to be addressed.

“We have received no notice from the Corps as to its plan,” said John B. Comegno II, Chairman of the Burlington County Bridge Commission, which manages the property on which the Nature Park sits. He added, “We look forward to a full and open dialogue with the Army Corps. Until then, however, we have no alternative but to take action to oppose this initiative as an unnecessary attack on an environmental resource which is home to important habitat and visited by more than 3,000 schoolchildren and naturalists annually.” Chairman Comegno added that even NJ elected officials have not received notice. The Bridge Commission has corresponded with federal, state, and local elected officials in an effort to garner support.

While a stated goal* of the Delaware River Main Channel Deepening Project is to “ensure that construction of the project does not impact the natural resources of the region,” that is exactly what will happen at Palmyra Cove Nature Park if the Army Corps proceeds with its plans to dramatically expand the disposal site for maintenance dredging that is not funded and cannot therefore take place.

Palmyra Cove Nature Park Executive Director, Clara Ruvolo, stated, “We recognize the need for maintenance dredging, but what is the need to clear cut 70 acres to expand the dredge material site on property that has become home to the Palmyra Cove Nature Park—especially when the Corps lacks the funds for this project?”

In its September 4, 2003 letter, the US Fish and Wildlife Service referenced a July 31, 2003 letter that “stated the Service’s concerns for potential adverse impacts to federally listed species, migratory birds, and anadromous fish associated with exposure to environmental contaminants and habitat loss associated with disposal alternatives. These concerns remain pertinent.” [emphasis added] Further, the letter stated that the data “are insufficient to thoroughly characterize the risk associated with dredging the proposed project area…” None of these objections has been addressed, just as none of the conditions required for regulatory approval for this project by the NJ DEP has been met.

*Source: “Overview of the Delaware River Main Channel Deepening Project,” http://www.nap.usace.army.mil/cenap-pl/drmcdp/overview.html 

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For Immediate Release 4/20/07
Burlington County Bridge Commission Awards Contract for Management Assessment
Announces Actions to Recover Monies Lost from Overbilling

Palmyra—At its April 19th meeting, the Burlington County Bridge Commission announced that it has awarded a contract to Milligan & Company, LLC, Consultants and Certified Public Accountants, based in Philadelphia, to perform a comprehensive management assessment and review.

Throughout the procurement process, Milligan & Company demonstrated that its project team is qualified and prepared to conduct a thorough review of the Commission’s current management structure, its resolutions and contracts, and performance oversight and accountability procedures. The project team proposed by Milligan is comprised of management consultants as well as CPAs. Milligan & Company also indicated its commitment to the Commission’s 90-day turnaround for the project.

“In direct response to the Freeholders’ request for a thorough management assessment and review, we are acquiring the services of an independent consulting and accounting firm to assist us as we take a fresh look at the way the Commission does business,” said Commission Chairman John B. Comegno II. “I personally reviewed all of the proposals and participated in the interview process and am pleased to recommend that the Commission retain the Milligan team for this project.”

The Bridge Commission’s lone Democrat, James E. Fletcher, who has recently championed the Commission’s actions to conduct evening meetings for increased public accessibility, added, “This analysis, and the recommendations that flow from it, will give the Commission additional tools to ensure that the Commission has the appropriate checks and balances in place.”

The process that led to the awarding of the contract began with the issuance and advertising of a “Request for Qualifications” from prospective firms, which was followed by a “Request for Proposals” from qualifying firms. Two firms were interviewed by the Commission Chairman and other staff.

Bridge Commission Announces Own Investigation Into Monies Lost

Also at the April 19th meeting, the Burlington County Bridge Commission announced that it is continuing to evaluate and analyze its own insurance policies, an initiative begun by former Commission Chairman J. Garfield DeMarco, in an attempt to determine if it is possible to recoup monies by making an insurance claim. The Commission is also looking to Bowman & Company, LLP, Certified Public Accountants, to assist in the claim.

Commissioners have also instructed Bridge Commission staff and counsel to evaluate and provide recommendations to them on any and all other options available to the Commission to recover the monies lost. When the analysis has been completed, the Commission will determine what remedies are available and make a decision as to how to proceed. The Commission has also already filed a claim with the United States District Court, seeking restitution from Mr. Stears relating to his guilty plea, and awaits sentencing and a decision as to restitution.

The Burlington County Bridge Commission manages the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges, and through its economic development and improvement authority powers extends pooled financing options to local governments and nonprofits in Burlington County. These initiatives have resulted in a savings of more than $13 million dollars in taxpayers’ money.

For information, contact: Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, cell (609) 230-1444.

 

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For Immediate Release 4/12/07
Burlington County Bridge Commission Presents $17K Grant Check for New Hanover Redevelopment

New Hanover—On April 10, Gary LaVenia, Director of Improvement Authority Operations for the Burlington County Bridge Commission, presented Dennis Roohr, Mayor of New Hanover Township, with a $17,000 check, representing a grant from the Bridge Commission’s Improvement Authority. Funds were requested to further New Hanover redevelopment efforts.

Upon accepting the check, Mayor Roohr said, “On behalf of the township committee and the people of this town, we thank you.” Of the benefit the grant will provide New Hanover Township, he added, “For a town our size, $17,000 is a lot of money—what it will do will be tremendous.”

Also in attendance were George Ivins, Deputy Mayor; Geoffrey Urbanik, Clerk-Administrator; and Mark Remsa, Director of Burlington County Economic Development and Regional Planning.

“This grant is just one of the many ways the Bridge Commission’s financing and economic development is providing New Hanover—as well as other towns in the county—with opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have to develop their community,” said Burlington County Bridge Commissioner James E. Fletcher. “And this community redevelopment results in significant savings to the taxpayers.”

It is through its economic development and improvement authority powers that the Burlington County Bridge Commission extends financing to local governments in the county, offering financing options including lease purchase and governmental loan financings designed to achieve a lower cost of capital money through economies of scale, lower interest rates, and/or lower cost of issuance.

The Burlington County Bridge Commission manages several Burlington County bridges, including the Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol Bridges, and through its economic development and improvement authority powers, extends pooled financing options to local governments in Burlington County. These initiatives have resulted in a savings of more than $13 million in taxpayer dollars.

For information, contact: Liz Verna, APR, Director of Communications, (856) 829-1900, cell (609) 230-1444.

 

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