Boardwalks along New Jersey's coast would be included in the state's official definition of "public highways," making them eligible for financial assistance from the same pot of money that's dedicated to the state's transportation projects, under a measure approved by an Assembly panel.

The bill, which has sponsors on both sides of the political aisle, would also require the Department of Transportation to devote at least $4 million per year from the Transportation Trust Fund to support boardwalk projects through Fiscal Year 2031.

“The Atlantic City boardwalk is 150 years old. The Wildwood boardwalk is 100 years old. Many more iconic walkways that hug the Jersey Shore are decades old and in dire need of repair,” said Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, D-Atlantic. “It’s difficult for municipalities to afford general maintenance of these highly-trafficked areas, let alone the costs of large-scale rehabilitation."

Mazzeo likened boardwalks to roadways — both host countless bicycles and pedestrians on a daily basis. Boardwalks handle truck deliveries and support millions of visitors per year, he said.

"There's wear and tear, and it becomes almost like a highway," he said.

As part of the proposed law, the State transportation local aid program would see its formula amended to include boardwalk mileage — counties and municipalities would then be provided with the same amount of annual local aid funding for each mile of boardwalk as they would for each mile of road they must maintain.

The measure was approved unanimously by the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee. A companion bill in the Senate has not yet been considered.

Included in Gov. Phil Murphy's current proposed budget for New Jersey is $4 million earmarked for repairs to the Wildwood boardwalk.

"If we're looking at Wildwood's boardwalk, we should be looking at everybody's boardwalk," Mazzeo said.

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