SOMERS POINT — The city will receive $130,000 to develop a bike route to connect the southern end of its existing bike path with a state-funded route over the new Garden State Parkway bridge into Cape May County.
But it will still be two to five years before cyclists and pedestrians can safely use the bike lane on the new bridge, since the state needs to build a way to access it from Route 9 in Somers Point, said Jim Rutala of Rutala Associates, who wrote the grant.
The bridge, on the other hand, is expected to be finished in May.
Rutala said the state needs to build a bike lane down the east side of Route 9 from Somers Point-Mays Landing Road and over the Exit 30 ramp, onto the existing bridge over the parkway, and then down past the toll booths and onto the new bridge.
The state has said that access route won’t be ready for another two to five years, said Rutala.
“We have been doing all we can” to get the state to move faster, Rutala said. “It’s a great plan, and it’s going to be beautiful when it’s done.”
The new bikeway will be painted on the shoulder of Somers Point-Mays Landing Road from MacArthur Boulevard to Route 9, said city Administrator Wes Swain.
The city also has a $200,000 Safe Streets to Transit grant to install sidewalks along the west side of Route 9 from West Laurel Drive to Somers Point-Mays Landing Road, where it snakes through Greate Bay Country Club, said Swain.
Between the two projects, Swain said the city should have its routes to the new parkway bridge ready sometime in 2019 or 2020.
The sidewalks on Route 9 will, in the meantime, make walking in the area safer for all.
“The city and the school board have been working together to pursue funding for sidewalks along Route 9 for many years,” said Mayor Jack Glasser. “Now, with this grant, we can provide a safe pedestrian walkway.”
A total of 1,500 linear feet of 4-foot-wide sidewalk will be installed. Guardrail and curbing will be installed to protect the users of the sidewalk. A split rail fence will separate the sidewalk from adjacent private properties. Twelve utility poles must be relocated to make room for the sidewalk.
The Safe Streets to Transit program is one of several safety initiatives funded through the state Transportation Trust Fund, which gets its funds from the gasoline tax.
The recent gas tax increase in 2016 more than doubled the overall amount of funds for the state Department of Transportation’s Local Aid programs to $400 million, according to the state.
The bikeway funding is part of a combined $1 million going to three municipalities for projects in fiscal year 2019, according to Gov. Phil Murphy, who announced the DOT grants Monday.
Lawrence Township in Mercer County will receive $370,000, and Garfield in Bergen County will receive $500,000.