N.J. counties capitalize on in-house repairs

Many New Jersey communities are trying to find ways to reduce expenses in these tough economic times. As part of that trend, Mercer County is saving taxpayers’ money by doing its own bridge repairs.

After six bridges in Mercer County were damaged by Hurricane Irene, some of the engineering and construction work to repair the spans is being done in house, according to Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes.

“We don’t need to go out and bid for the bond money. We don’t have to go out and get outside engineers in here to take a look at it both before and after they start construction,” Hughes said. “I think we’re able to do it faster. We’re able to do it directly to our specifications.”

By forgoing outside contractors, Hughes said the county will save up to $1.5 million.

The executive director of the New Jersey Association of Counties expects other counties to the same as long the work can be done safely.

“As local governments, counties in particular, are continuing to struggle to make ends meet we’re looking at every possible alternative to make sure that our bridges and our roads are safe for travel,” said John Donnadio, the executive director of the New Jersey Association of Counties. “If we can do it in a more cost-effective way by bringing it in house, we’ve got to certainly take a look at it.”

Officials said there are limits on the kinds of repairs counties can do themselves. They’ll still have to rely on outside contractors for major projects.

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