In Your Opinion: County Infrastructure Repairs Needed, Support Robinson And Sooy

By Joan Pritchard, Bridgewater.

Somerset County is one of the wealthiest counties in the United States, yet the infrastructure and transportation system remain neglected. The Freeholders have maintained the same policy for several decades, build new but neglect the existing. This continued neglect is now costing the residents of Somerset County financially and in their safety.

The county has paid for study after study to give the appearance of acting, but many of those projects are shelved or ignored and then need to be repeated. These projects are vital repairs and improvements to make areas safer and prevent the infrastructure from failing. The projects that do move forward are photo opportunities for the freeholders to show a shovel in the ground or a ribbon cutting ceremony, but then get added to the growing list of neglected infrastructure. Projects have sat unusable for longer than the lifespan of the materials used and not helped the impacted communities. Non-transportation projects are unnecessarily being delayed by the county, costing the tax payers and putting an aging infrastructure at risk of failure.

On a weekly basis residents and commuters are receiving messages of emergency road or bridge closures due to urgent repairs or accidents in unsafe corridors. Government officials should not be justifying bridge closures after routine inspections by saying “This is why we perform the inspections”. The inspections are being used to further delay repair or replacement. It is clear the county’s maintenance program is not working and immediate changes are needed. Several of the corridors which are unsafe are vital for commuters to get to and from work and are emergency routes to hospitals. Every minute counts when getting a patient to a hospital. The well known unsafe corridors have cost lives over the past year. How many more lives will be lost because of inaction by the county?

The era of companies buying up real estate and building offices all over are long gone and now more strategic developments and investments are occurring. Companies are considering many factors before investing, including all aspects of transportation from roads to mass transit available for employees. The freeholders have lost touch thinking Somerset County transportation is sufficient, yet it can take a rider over two hours to travel two towns away. This flawed thinking will deter businesses from coming to the county, costing tax revenue and jobs.

On November 6th, we as voters have the opportunity to send a message to the Freeholder Board and say we want action not studies and photo opportunities. Shanel Robinson and Sara Sooy will bring a fresh perspective and ensure the safety of residents and that proper maintenance is completed. They will put the residents before photos.

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