Cape May Expanding Bike Paths with NJDOT Grants

bikeonbeach
Bike on beach in Cape May

By: Nimotalai Azeez

In April 2016, the City of Cape May received approval of grant funding from the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT). The two grants that Cape May received are a part of the NJDOT Bikeway Grant Program and the NJDOT Municipal Aid Program. The purpose of the Bikeway Grant Program is to encourage bike path construction to help the state reach its goal of 1,000 new miles. This program is open to every municipality and county in the state, although priority is given to new bike path construction. Cape May was one of four municipalities that received the grant this year. For the Municipal Aid Program, $78.75 million in program aid goes toward road improvement projects such as resurfacing, rehabilitation, reconstruction, and signalization. Applications are reviewed for completeness, existing road conditions, safety improvements, access to nodes, readiness to construct, and other criteria.

The first grant titled “Cape May City Bikeway Network Expansion Project, Phase II” will add an extension of the bike path currently under construction from the Phase I grant. Phase I included a grant of $350,000 in 2015 to build a safe bikeway from Cape May Elementary School to the Coast Guard Base in the city.

Map of Cape May
Map of Cape May

The bikeway will pass through Lafayette Street Park, which the city has planned restorations for as well. This grant is part of the New Jersey’s Safe Routes to School reimbursement program, according to Cape May Mayor Edward Mahaney. Phase II is a grant of $250,000 that will expand the bike path to the Cape May City Transportation Center. Mayor Mahaney recognizes that over half of the students at the elementary school belong to Coast Guard families, he believes the bikeway expansion will be a healthy and safe way for those families to ride their bikes. Also he mentioned that the project has been a “bottom up approach” consisting of public meetings to hear what the community wants for the bikeway.

1200 block of Cape May Avenue.
1200 block of Cape May Avenue.

The second grant that the City of Cape May received is titled “NJDOT Fiscal Year 2016 Municipal Aid Program for Reconstruction” and the award amount is $179,000. The grant can be applied to improvements such as: reconstruction of block and street bed, new utilities, adding curbing along home fronts, and storm water drainage improvements. The block that will undergo construction is the 1200 block of Cape May Avenue. Cape May is one of the country’s oldest communities in the state, dating back to 1600, and  Mayor Mahaney describes the city as having narrow streets and small lots because of its age. The complete reconstruction costs are around $400,000, so the funds from this grant will be mostly used for paving. Mahaney said they invest in complete reconstructions, that way when small repairs are needed, they are less expensive to do.

The city has also received funds from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development and the New Jersey Environmental Trust to support city improvements. Planning and installation for the bikeway will happen in phases, starting this year. The full bikeway is expected to be completed and ready for use in 2019. The block reconstruction on Cape May Avenue will begin in January 2017 and is expected to be completed before Memorial Day 2017. Mayor Mahaney believes the city will benefit from a “manner for people to travel in the city without having to use a car”. As well as enjoyable recreational and physical activity for the whole family. He also expects the bikeway to spur ecotourism, drawing people to the city year-round to stimulate businesses in the city that “involves the community and stabilizes the population”.

 

Image sources:

Cape May County. (n.d.). [Family cycling on path]. [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://capemaycountynj.gov/928/Visit-The-Jersey-Cape

Cape May County. (n.d.). [Bike on beach]. [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://capemaycountynj.gov/928/Visit-The-Jersey-Cape

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