RIVER ROAD GETS OVERSTIMULATED

fh-river-rdA stretch of River Road in Fair Haven, seen looking east here, will get upgrades thanks to federal stimulus money. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

How do you get more money from the federal government than you ever dreamed of, or even asked for? Tell ‘em you don’t want it, apparently.

It worked for Fair Haven, which, led by anti-stimulus Republican Mayor and Congressional candidate Mike Halfacre, recently received $886,000 in stimulus funds — nearly double the borough’s original request of $480,000 for its “River Road West Streetscape” plan.

The borough was notified by the Federal Highway Administration in February it was receiving the larger-than-asked for sum, Halfacre says on his blog.

The 12th-district House candidate also defends accepting the money, despite his belief that the $787 billion stimulus package passed by President Obama last year was “pork-laden” and would be “ineffective.”

“The stimulus money is going to be spent somewhere. I am absolutely against the concept of the stimulus,” Halfacre said. “Once the stimulus is approved and the money is going to be spent, I owe it to the taxpayers of Fair Haven to make sure the money is spent well.”

The River Road project fits that bill, Halfacre said. Originally slated as a “modest” project of new sidewalks and lighting, Halfacre said the administration came back to Fair Haven last year and essentially asked the borough to submit a “dream” plan.

The state Department of Transportation, along with a federal engineer and borough engineer Rich Gardella worked out a plan that will result in new  scored-concrete sidewalks — with the exception of the areas in front of Krauszer’s and Acme, which will get brick sidewalks. There will also be new lighting, benches, garbage cans and trees along the stretch from borough hall to Smith Street.

“It was kind of a bells and whistles thing, like, if you had a dream project, what would it be?” Halfacre said. “So we have a bells and whistles project.”

The borough is expected to advertise for the job Wednesday, with an anticipated date of April 20 to have a contract awarded, said Mary Howell, borough administrator. She said the work is set to be complete by October 1, though it could be done before then.

The work will be done in increments, Howell said, so as not to significantly hamper traffic on River Road.

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