United Water to take over some water/sewerage operations
In a deal that has been in the works for more than a year, United Water will take over some of the sewer and water operations from the Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority over the next 40 years bringing to the city coffers $150 million.
Under the agreement that was expected to get the blessing of the BMUA at a meeting on July 24, United Water Joint Venture will collect water and sewerage fees from residents as well as run the operation, maintenance and repairs of the sewerage and water systems.
As a result, city residents could see an increase in fees of 8.5 percent.
Port Authority fast tracks Bayonne Bridge raising
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey recently announced that it will finish the deck removal portion of the Raise the Roadway project at the Bayonne Bridge six months ahead of schedule, ensuring completion of this important project in advance of commercial operations at the widened Panama Canal. The deck removal will provide critical navigational clearance for larger post-Panamax ships to access port terminals in New York and New Jersey when the Panama Canal opens.
Construction of the Port Authority project is being expedited under the leadership of Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Work will commence in mid-2013 when crews begin to build a new elevated roadway 64 feet above the existing deck. Once completed, the Bayonne Bridge roadway will be 215 feet above the Kill Van Kull waterway, allowing larger cargo ships to easily pass beneath the structure. The Port Authority is expediting the work to coincide with when the widening of the Panama Canal is completed and fully operational. The Port Authority anticipates deck removal to be completed by the fall of 2015. The original project timeline called for completion of deck removal in mid-2016.
The Panama Canal Authority recently announced that construction delays will push completion of the Canal project into 2015. In an interview on June 29 with the Panamanian television station Telemetro, Alberto Alemán Zubieta, the administrator of the Panama Canal, noted that following completion of construction there would be up to eight months of testing and trials before the Canal will be fully operational.
“Raising the roadway on the Bayonne Bridge paves the way to a brighter, competitive economic future for New Jersey and the region,” said Christie. “Completing this important project ahead of schedule will ensure that our ports remain a vital link to the global economy and the destination of choice for international shippers and cargo.”
Mainor opens hearing on problems with state halfway houses
Assembly Law and Public Safety Chairman Charles Mainor released a statement July 23 as his committee began a hearing on a troubling lack of oversight at halfway houses operating under the Christie administration’s Department of Corrections.
He said there has been a troubling lack of accountability as well at the halfway houses operating under the state’s Department of Corrections.
“We’ve all seen the news reports detailing escapes, gang activity, drugs and sexual abuse at these facilities. And we’ve learned of the tragic consequences,” he said. “These reports raise serious questions about the Christie administration’s ability to properly oversee these facilities. No one disagrees with the intention of helping people re-enter society as productive citizens. But when escapes, gang activity, drugs and sexual abuse are widespread, something is terribly wrong and unacceptable. Public safety is paramount, as should be the welfare of employees and inmates trying to make their lives better, but something seems to have fallen by the wayside.”
He said his committee is prepared to take whatever legislative action is necessary to remedy these problems.
“And I expect Gov. Christie and his administration to fully cooperate with our efforts,” he said. “In fact, this matter especially deserves close scrutiny in light of Gov. Christie’s indefensible line-item vetoes of stricter halfway house oversight. The longer we allow this system to continue as-is unchecked, the more we jeopardize the safety and well-being of the public at large.”
Sires votes for raise for troops
Rep. Albio Sires voted for the passage of H.R. 5856, the Defense Department Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2013, which passed the House of Representatives by 326 to 90. The bill would provide $519 billion for the Department of Defense budget in FY 2013, as well as funding for overseas military operations.
“One of the most critical aspects of this bill is the assistance it provides to our troops and their families. In particular, this bill increases the pay raise for the troops, strengthens health care services for troops and their families, and provides $2.3 billion for family support and advocacy programs,” stated Sires.
The bill would grant a pay raise of 1.7 percent and an increase in the basic allowance for housing and subsistence for all service members, and $33.9 billion for Defense health care programs for the troops, their families, and retirees. The bill would also provide for an increase in funding for cancer research, medical facility and equipment upgrades, traumatic brain injury and psychological health research, and suicide prevention outreach programs, as well as call for an improvement of schools for military families by providing $270 million to replace state or locally-owned schools.
“Providing assistance to both our troops at home and abroad is the least we can do to show our admiration for all they do to protect our country and its citizens,” said Sires.