Category Archives: New Jersey

New Report Ranks Flood-Prone Hoboken As 2nd U.S. City To Be Underwater by 2100

In a special report analyzing data from a 2018 study, 24/7 Wall Street named the top 35 U.S. cities that could be underwater by the turn of the century. Of those 35, nine were in New Jersey with Hoboken coming in No. 2 on the list.

According to the 24/7 Wall Street, nearly 30 percent of Hoboken’s population with homes is at risk of flooding by 2060 and nearly 50 percent of habitable land will be underwater by then. By 2100, 44 percent of Hoboken’s homes will be at risk of flooding and 71 percent of habitable land will be underwater.

But the mayor of Hoboken pushed back on the report, according to News12 NJ, saying that it didn’t take into account the Rebuild by Design project and initiatives the city has planned and has already put in place to fight the city’s history of flooding, including pumps, resiliency parks and underground retention tanks.

Miami Beach, FL, was No. 1 on the list. The other NJ cities are: Atlantic City (3), Ocean City (12), Ventnor City (16), Pennsville (24), Little Ferry (26), Brigantine (29), Margate City (32) and Secaucus (35).

24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from “Underwater,” published June 2018 by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based environmental watchdog group the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). That study identified U.S. coastal communities where the largest number of residents live in properties that are projected to face by 2060 the highest level of chronic and disruptive flooding, or effective inundation—defined as being at risk of flooding 26 times or more per year. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the number of properties and total value of properties that are exposed to flood risk based on a “high” scenario calculated by the Union for Concerned Scientists.

“Cities and institutions can mitigate flood damage by implementing wetlands, levees, and other mechanisms, and many of the cities on this list have taken steps to implement these measures,” 24/7 Wall Street said. “It is important to note that the estimates published by the UCS do not take into account the mitigating effects of such mechanisms.”

American Dream Delayed Again, But Birds and Bunnies Are Coming

What’s a few more months when a project is being measured in decades?

The American Dream takes patience. After many years of previous delays, developers of the mega mall at the Meadowlands have announced yet another one.

The retail and entertainment complex won’t open its doors this summer, as it was announced in March. Instead, this week, developer Triple Five said there would be another delay on the long-stalled project. It is now scheduled to open in the fall. Or at least portions of it is scheduled to open this fall, according to NJ.com.

Some new features in the controversial three-million-square-foot site include:

  • Six grand atriums, including one that will have a garden, aviaries and bunny fields.
  • More than 75,000 LED lights and 25,000 leaves that will create “Albero dei Sogni,” a tree-like sculpture that will “perform” to music several times a day.
  • A 60-foot fashion fountain that can be turned into a catwalk in a matter of seconds.
  • A 60-foot atrium will be an entertainment hub for live events and social gatherings.

Newark Airport ConRAC Gets Funding, Prepares To Break Ground

There is movement on the new 2.7 million-square-foot consolidated rent-a-car facility (ConRAC) at Newark Airport, as $500 million in financing as been approved for the project.

The building, which will put all rent-a-car companies under one roof as part of Newark Liberty Airport’s Terminal One Redevelopment Program, will be constructed on a 16.65-acre site and feature 2,925 public parking spaces and 3,380 rental car spaces, according to airport-technology.com.

The project, which includes sustainability initiatives including a solar roof, electric vehicle charging stations and water reclamation systems, is expected to break ground this month. The parking area is to be completed in 2021, and the full facility is expected to be operational in 2023.

NJSDA in Crisis Again; School Projects Could Be At Risk

The New Jersey School Development Authority (NJSDA) is in crisis, again. The agency in charge of funding and managing new construction, modernization and renovation in 31 of the state’s most impoverished school districts is spiraling after yet another scandal. There are now calls to dissolve the agency that was created after its predecessor was disbanded when it failed to meet its mission to use taxpayer dollars to give the most at-risk kids of this state an adequate learning environment.

This week the organization’s CEO Lizette Delgado-Polanco was forced to resign after an investigation showed she lied about her education and hired unqualified people with personal connections to her after firing others on staff. Amid these accusations of unfair hiring practices and lying about qualifications, the budget is dwindling and no one can say for sure what is going to happen to the districts and 25 active Capital Program projects it lists on its website.

According to NJ.com, the agency once had a budget of $12 billion and it is now down to $60 million, which is not enough for new construction—it is only enough for emergency repairs at existing schools. And the NJSDA is already operating with a debt that costs state taxpayers $1 billion a year, according to The Record. It is also under multiple internal investigations and an audit.

Lost again in all of this is the construction projects that now people in the state admit there are real questions about how projects can go forward, but board chairman Rob Nixon told The Record the authority would continue its work.

“I’ve got a responsibility to now work with the board to get a CEO in there that’s going to be focused on taking this program into its next stage,” he said. “We really haven’t missed a beat. But I think that now that we’re hopefully no longer going to be distracted, we can look ahead to finishing up the projects we have and look into re-authorization and learning from this like we’ve done in the past.”

The Capital Program active projects are:

Camden High School, Camden

George Washington Carver Elementary School, East Orange
New ES at Halloran PS 22 Site, Elizabeth – substantially complete and occupied.
James Madison Elementary School, Garfield – substantially complete and occupied.
Gloucester City Middle School, Gloucester City – substantially complete and occupied.
New Elementary School, Harrison
Thomas G. Connors Elementary School, Hoboken – not yet out to bid.
Madison Avenue Elementary School, Irvington
Patricia M. Noonan Elementary School, Jersey City – substantially complete and occupied.
Port Monmouth Road School, Keansburg
Senior High School, Millville
Paul Robeson Community Theme School for the Arts, New Brunswick
South Street Elementary School, Newark
Cleveland Street Elementary School, Orange
Orange High School, Orange
Dayton Avenue Elementary School Campus, Passaic City – design phase ongoing.
New Elementary School at Leonard Place, Passaic City
Union Avenue Middle School, Paterson
Alexander Denbo Elementary School, Pemberton
Seaman Avenue Elementary School, Perth Amboy
High School, Perth Amboy
Woodland Elementary School, Plainfield
Trenton Central High School, Trenton
Lincoln Avenue Middle School, Vineland – substantially complete and occupied.
Harry L. Bain Elementary School, West New York – substantially complete and occupied.

Report: Construction Slows on Much Needed Bridge Repairs Across U.S.

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) released its 2019 Bridge Report, and it is a good news/bad news (mostly the latter).

While there are fewer structurally deficient bridges than the year before, construction to fix them has slowed to the point where it would take 80 years to make the needed significant repairs, according to the report. That is not a good trend when the more than 47,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country are in need of “urgent” repairs.

Based on data from 2018, the “highlights” of the findings include:

  • Four out of 10 bridges need to be replaced or repaired
  • 47,052 of America’s 616,087 bridges are rated “structurally deficient” and need urgent repairs
  • The pace of repair in 2018 slowed compared to previous years—with only a 1 percent net reduction of deficient structures.
  • Americans cross these deficient bridges 178 million times a day.
  • Average age of a structurally deficient bridge is 62 years, compared to 40 years for non-deficient bridges.
  • 235,020 (38 percent) of U.S. bridges have identified repair needs.
  • 18,842 (1 in 3) Interstate highway bridges have identified repair needs

The report breaks down the crumbling infrastructure by state.

Rhode Island ranked first on the list by the percentage of deficient bridges with more than 23 percent of its 780 bridges found to be structurally deficient. Pennsylvania was fifth on the list with 3,770 of its 22,737 bridges listed as deficient, which is more than 16 percent. New York was 13th (1,757 out of 17,521/10 percent). New Jersey was 23 (544 out of 6,746, 8.1 percent).

New Jersey Paving the Way with Funding for Infrastructure Projects

New Jersey has spread the wealth in April with parts of Northern and Southern NJ receiving state funding to move forward with infrastructure projects.

Hoboken received more than $900,000 for various transportation projects through the Municipal Aid Program, the city announced last week. The money will be used for road repaving, the implementation of complete streets, and pedestrian safety upgrades related to Hoboken’s “Vision Zero” program, according to a press release.

“Upgrading our transportation infrastructure, especially our road repaving and pedestrian safety initiatives, are major priorities for my administration,” Mayor Ravi Bhalla said in the announcement. “This funding will help fund our proactive road repaving schedule, with over 100 blocks planned to be repaved in the city this year.  I thank Governor Murphy and the State DOT for this generous award.”

In other NJ infrastructure and transit-related project funding news, Murphy announced the Fiscal Year 2019 Safe Streets to Transit Program (SSTT) grants, which were awarded to five municipal projects through the Transit Village grant program. The recipient municipalities are:

  • Berkeley Heights, Union County: $410,000
  • Delran, Burlington County: $250,000
  • Margate, Atlantic County: $150,000
  • Red Bank, Monmouth County: $100,000
  • Middle Township, Cape May County: $90,000

The $1 million in funding will go toward projects that focus on pedestrian safety to and from transit facilities, such as sidewalks, and projects that create “safe and convenient ways to cross streets and comfortable and attractive environments” near NJ Transit stations.

Northeast Projects At Risk of Delay, Defunding To Pay for Border Wall

There are many government construction projects in the Northeast that could be delayed and millions of dollars in funds may be diverted to pay for President Trump’s Border Wall. The  Department of Defense list of military projects that could potentially be impacted was released this week by a senator on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In New Jersey, a $41 million construction project at Picatinny Arsenal is at risk of being delayed, but the four projects—including work on electrical systems and mechanical systems, as well as exterior renovations and  cleaning and repairing lift stations and catch basins—totaling more than $100 million for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst would go ahead as planned because those contracts are scheduled to be awarded in March, April, May and September, and the Defense Department said it would not divert funding from projects scheduled to begin before Oct. 1, according to NJ.com.

In New York, The U.S. Military Academy in West Point could lose up to $160 million designated for a new engineering center and parking centerArmy Times reported.

Four projects in Pennsylvania are at risk, including a $71 million submarine propeller manufacturing facility in Philadelphia. In Delaware, the $39 million aircraft maintenance building at Dover Air Force could be delayed, according to Delaware Business Now.

As of now, no project would be cancelled to fund the Border Wall, the Pentagon said. But for that to hold true, Congress must approve the request to fully replenish the funds, according to the Army Times.

Schumer Hopes Legislation Can Jump-start Gateway Construction

This week New York Senator Chuck Schumer said he will propose legislation to push construction to start on the multi-billion dollar Gateway Tunnel and Portal Bridge Project. Speaking at an event of the Association for a Better New York, Schumer said his bill would allow New York and New Jersey to advance money to get shovel-ready construction projects started and be guaranteed reimbursement from the federal government when the U.S. Department of Transportation gives its final approval.

Schumer said “if DOT continues to withhold the new starts grants from Portal and the ROD [record of decision] for the Hudson tunnels” he and fellow members of Congress from New York and New Jersey would push this legislation and attach it to an appropriations bill or some other “must-pass legislation,” according to The Bond Buyer.

Right now, Schumer said, even if the states had the money to fund the projects ready to begin the $12.7 billion plan to upgrade the rail tunnel under the Hudson River, the local government won’t spend that money for fear of not getting back what they would be owed from the federal government.

Acknowledging that this legislation is not the “magic solution” to solving the problems plaguing the Gateway Project overnight, Schumer said “the time for waiting is over.”

Adventure Crossing Hopes To Be NJ’s Destination for Indoor Sports And More

Never mind the American Dream. New Jersey’s game-changing construction project may just be happening in Ocean County, far down the NJ Turnpike from Exit 16W’s infamous Meadowlands development.

Cardinale Enterprises wants to turn Jackson, NJ, into more than Six Flags and a stop for some outlet shopping on the way home. Instead the destination will be Adventure Crossing—an indoor sports and entertainment facility with easy access to the NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, adjacent to Six Flags and a quick trip to the Shore’s beaches. It will be the go-to place for youth sports tournaments and training camps, as well as business conferences and an overnight stay and extra activities for the rollercoaster crowd after a day at Great Adventure.

The amended preliminary and final site plan was approved by Jackson Township Zoning Board on January 30. Construction began  in July when they broke ground and started working on approximately $9 million of sewer and water mains, road work and land grading. The centerpiece of the facility is a 117,000-square-foot inflatable dome that is 89 feet tall and will include multiple, multi-use turf fields, five basketball and volleyball courts, an area for laser tag and an arcade, rock climbing walls, and a 12,000 square foot mezzanine for training classes as well as overlooking the courts and fields. Work on the dome has begun as part of Phase I of the construction, which will include a 10,000 square foot banquet hall and two hotels—a 140-room Hilton Garden and a 134-room Spring Hill Suites.

While the dome and the two hotels expect to be opened in late 2020, the entire vision of Cardinale founder and president Vito Cardinale for the $500 million project is expected to take about 10 years to be fully completed.  The plans  include a 100,000 square foot gymnastics facility, four to six hockey rinks, a retail complex, a golf driving range, an outdoor cricket stadium, a brain research center, and possibly a living facility for people with special needs. The original site was 150 acres but since the summer, Cardinale has acquired enough property to double the size to 300 acres.

 The New Jersey Sierra Club expressed environmental concerns about loss of habitat by building on the Pinelands property. Having struck a deal with Six Flags to protect part of that Ocean County location from clearing more land, they worry now that this development will negate what they gained in that negotiation, but Cardinale Enterprises said recently it will leave half of the land on its site “green.”

Registration Open for LEED v4.1; USGBC Seeks Volunteers

The Green Building Council’s (USGBC) newest version of the LEED green building program, LEED v4.1, is open for registration for both new construction projects, as well as interior spaces.

The goal of the new version is “to make the rating system more accessible to more projects based on lessons learned from LEED v4 project teams,” according to the USGBC. This newest beta version updates performance thresholds and referenced standards. The changes also advocate for improved performance throughout the life of buildings, reward leaders based on performance and incorporate performance reporting so that building owners can track progress toward environmental, social and governance goals.

The USGBC is also currently looking for volunteers for its LEED for Cities and Communities working group. The organization is looking for experts with technical knowledge across the rating system to serve on the inaugural LEED for Cities and Communities Working Group to advise on global, city-scale and urban sustainability issues across the organization’s programs, policies and products and support development, deployment and evolution of the LEED for Cities and Communities standard and program.