The need to assure the safety of bridges throughout New Jersey and the estimate of the cost of doing so ?gives added urgency? to the recommendation by Atlantic County?s Republican legislative candidates that the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority direct a greater share of its revenues to infrastructure projects in the county with special attention paid to bridges and overpasses.
State Sen. Sonny McCullough and his running mates for Assembly, Vince Polistina and John Amodeo, have pledged to work as a team in the Legislature to direct the CRDA to allocate more money to local projects ?rather than sending millions of dollars all over the state to finance proposals which bear little or no relation to the agency?s original mandate.?
?The tragic loss of life in the bridge collapse in Minnesota focused greater attention on the level of safety of the more than 6,000 bridges in New Jersey which led to a finding that some 1,700 of the structures are either deficient or obsolete,? the Republicans said.
?The CRDA was created with a legislative mandate to help finance improvements to the infrastructure in the Atlantic City and County region to assist local governments in coping with the heavy impact of casino development,? they said. ?Unfortunately, the agency, in our view, has strayed from its initial mission and has directed considerable sums of money elsewhere when the funds could more appropriately have been used here. ?
?Now, more than ever, more of what is generated here should be allocated here,? they said. ?While the issue on a statewide basis requires the attention of state government, we here in Atlantic County already have a mechanism in the CRDA which can be readily utilized to assist us.?
The GOP candidates pointed out that the New Jersey Association of Counties has estimated that it would cost nearly $2 billion to bring the deficient and obsolete bridges in the state up to necessary safety standards.
?The safety of the commuters, vacationers and others who in the course of their daily lives drive on these bridges day in and day out cannot be compromised,? they said.
?Here in Atlantic County, the CRDA is a government agency with a specific mandate to address infrastructure improvements,? they said. ?Events of the past week make it imperative that the Agency re-order its priorities and re-direct its resources in line with that mandate.?