New Jersey Monthly’s 10 Must-Reads of 2015

Didn't have time to read our best stories of 2015? We've compiled them here just for you.

Did you know that 624 bridges in New Jersey are “structurally deficient,” including the Pulaski Skyway the 222-year old Stony Brook Bridge in Princeton, and there’s no money to fix them? Our award-winning January 2015 cover story “Why Jersey Roads Suck” by Associate Editor Breanne McCarthy explains how the state’s Transportation Trust Fund dried up.

Read on for some of our best reporting from the past year on issues impacting New Jerseyans, including the explosion of e-cigarette lounges throughout the state and the controversial pipeline planned for the protected Pinelands region.

1. Why Jersey Roads Suck

 

Photo by George Steinmetz

Photo by George Steinmetz

January 2015: Dense population centers, aging infrastructure and a failing transportation fund have put New Jersey on the brink of disaster. By Breanne McCarthy

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2. Freedom’s Path: The Underground Railroad in NJ

 

Peter Mott, a former slave, turned his home in present-day Lawnside into an Underground Railroad stop.

Photo by Kathy Moore

February 2015: Fraught with peril, the Underground Railroad was a route out of bondage for untold numbers of escaped slaves. By Patricia Weigold Fiaschetti

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3. Mean Streets, Sensitive Cops: Camden’s New Guard

 

County police officers shoot hoops with residents of Camden's Centerville section during an outdoor Meet Your Neighborhood Police Officers Festival.

Photo by Matthew Wright

February 2015: In Camden, a new county police force aims to connect with the people it is supposed to protect. By Nick DiUlio

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4. The Governor at 80

 

Portrait by Daniel Adel

Portrait by Daniel Adel

April 2015: His gentlemanly style of politics may be out of favor, but 25 years after leaving office, Tom Kean is still intent on making a difference. By Kevin Coyne

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5. Hanging with the Vapers

 

Vapers at Evaporate in Asbury Park.

Photo by Joe Polillio

May 2015: E-cigarettes, once simply a means to quit smoking, have spawned a new culture, with meeting places, collectible pipes and a rainbow of fruity flavors. By Caren Chesler

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6. Unwanted Guests: Invasive Species Infiltrate the Garden State

 

The Great Swamp in Morris County has its own strike team to battle invasives.

Photo by Fred Conrad

July 2015: A plague of invasive plants, animals and creepy-crawly things is crowding out Jersey’s natural species. The state spends millions to stop the destruction, but the exotic invaders keep coming. By Anthony DePalma

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7. Raking In the Shore’s Crystal Bounty

 

Photo by Paul Bartholomew

Photo by Paul Bartholomew

September 2015: The Cape May Sea Salt Company, the latest project from project-loving chef Lucas Manteca, is turning Jersey ocean water into fine salt that aims to be “sensual.” By Diane Stopyra

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8. Storm Without End: Sandy Three Years Later

 

The Volante family tried to save their Union Beach home after Hurricane Sandy, but gave up and moved to Belford. Their Union Beach house was razed and the property is sdtill for sale.

Photo by Matt Furman

October 2015: Three years after Sandy struck New Jersey, those devastated by the hurricane continue to grapple with lost homes and red tape. By Matthew McGrath

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9. Pinelands Predicament

 

The proposed 22-mile underground South Jersey Gas pipeline would travel from Maurice Township through 10 miles of protected Pinelands to the B.L. England Generating Station at Beesley's Point in Cape May County. The 53-year-old plant, which currently burns coal, towers over the local beach.

Photo by Matthew Wright

November 2015: A proposed natural gas pipeline through just 10 miles of protected land has ignited protest and political intrigue in South Jersey. By Nick DiUlio

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10. Terminal Case: The End of Volunteer First Aid

 

After the volunteer West Orange First Aid Squad was disbanded, its members from over the years gathered for a memorial photograph in front of the squad's castle-like headquarters.

Photo by Erik Rank

December 2015: Has New Jersey’s long-standing tradition of volunteer first aid reached the end of its life span? By Peg Rosen

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