CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — A major infrastructure project is underway to fix long-neglected roads in Camden. Officials say they hope the $16 million project improves the quality of life for people who live in the city.
Construction has become somewhat of a norm over the last five years in Camden, where officials estimate nearly $3 billion worth of economic development is in the works.
But the latest improvements are happening in a part of the city even the mayor admits was neglected for far too long.
“This is north of the bridge and this is an area that was ignored for many, many years,” Camden Mayor Frank Moran said.
On Monday, local officials and members of Congress broke ground on a $16 million federal project to improve the dilapidated streets in the Cooper’s Poynt section of North Camden.
Local residents like Felicia Reyes-Morton, who is now a city councilwoman, says bumpy rides and impassable sidewalks have been a way of life for decades in Cooper’s Poynt.
“As a kid, you’re walking and you don’t have complete sidewalks, you’re walking in the street for half your journey to school,” Reyes-Morton said.
She says too often people in wheelchairs couldn’t get down their own blocks. This project aims to change that.
“It’s going to be really important to the healthiness of the community moving forward,” Reyes-Morton said.
Seven streets in North Camden and a long portion of Cooper Street in downtown Camden will get new pavement, crosswalks and other improvements to make life easier on drivers and pedestrians.
The new infrastructure could help pave the way for investment at the former state prison site just north of the Ben Franklin Bridge — all reasons why the city won the extremely competitive federal transportation grant.
“As we enhance safety for Camden residents, we take pride in knowing this project will also contribute to the city’s continued economic renaissance,” Sen. Bob Menendez said.
“We’re working collectively with this community and we’re making sure that prosperity comes to every neighborhood in the city,” Moran said.
The work on Cooper Street will continue for the next six months and in Cooper’s Poynt, the next 20 months.