HUNTERDON COUNTY, NJ - Engineering project work and funding for various Hunterdon County programs, services, grant initiatives and financial management goals were propelled forward by approvals conferred at the Board of County Commissioners’ meeting Feb. 16.

A professional service contract of $35,000 with Sparta-based firm Skylands Engineering LLC for subsurface exploration and geotechnical assistance reporting (also known as soil testing) was approved as Board of Commissioners’ Director Susan J. Soloway called upon Hunterdon County Engineer and Director of Public Works Tom Mathews to explain its premise. This represents an annual county contract primarily used to cover soil borings at future bridge construction or rehabilitation projects, and the geotechnical analysis, Mathews said, is always critical to the county’s planning and work.

“When we go to do a bridge design, we usually take four borings with one taken at each corner of the bridge,” he said. “We are going 15 to 25 feet deep as we’re looking for rock. We take that boring and get the soil characteristics from that boring. After the boring is taken, Skylands Engineering will write a geotechnical report to give us every bit of information you can get out of that soil, especially where any rock is. The geotechnical and soil testing information is critical because it directly impacts how we are going to design the bridge.”

The board approved a resolution for a professional services agreement, an annual contract not to exceed $30,000, with Atane Engineers, Architects and Land Surveyors, P.C. for material testing services.

“When we receive federal and state funding for projects including our bridge projects and our resurfacing projects, we are required to do a materials testing to confirm that all our specifications were met,” Mathews said. “Most commonly after you see a resurfacing job done by the county, we will take 8-inch cores and we will send them to Atane Engineering to test them. They are testing for whether or not the proper thickness of asphalt was put down. On our bridge projects when they’re doing a concrete pour they will actually take some of the concrete and they’ll pour it into cylinders at the same time. Those cylinders will be sent to Atane to test as they evaluate to see how much strength/force it takes to break the concrete in order to make sure the concrete we’re using for our bridges is strong enough.”

The board also approved a contract, not to exceed $315,876, with PJ Building Cleaning LLC, of Ho Ho Kus, for janitorial services at various Hunterdon County buildings and facilities. The board first approved the company in 2019, and again last week, on the recommendation of Justin T. Tibbetts, division manager in the Department of Administrative Services and superintendent of county facilities, as well as County Purchasing Agent Raymond Rule.

Another contract – for additional landscape maintenance and moving services on county grounds – was approved for Custom Care Lawn Services, in Wall, for an amount not to exceed $138,576. Tibbetts spoke of time and labor cost savings for the county involved in supplementing in-house manpower, “as well as saving on future longevity benefits costs” for county employees.

“Since 2015, we have found success and savings in subcontracting landscaping and mowing services for all Hunterdon County properties,” he said. “This reduces county costs for manpower hours as well as our need to purchase and maintain new equipment. This year, working with the county’s chief of staff, and in an effort to create more efficiencies within the organization, we wanted to expand on our prior success and include (in the landscaping contract) our four largest active use park areas, Deer Path Park in Flemington, South County Park Fairgrounds, Point Mountain and Echo Hill Park."

According to Tibbetts, the subcontracted landscaping and mowing service will allow the county “to reclaim work and hours from our current employees that are tasked with lawn maintenance services to complete other maintenance tasks in the parks.”