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Sierra Club to NJTA: Raising Tolls to Widen Roads is No Good

Date : Tue, 09 Sep 2008 13:06:40 -0400

For Immediate Release Contact: Jeff Tittel
September 9, 2008 (609) 558-9100

Sierra Club to NJTA: Raising Tolls to Widen Roads is No Good

Woodbridge - The Sierra Club opposed fare increases at the New Jersey Turnpike Authority meeting today. As proposed, most of the revenue generated from the fare increases on the turnpike will be used to widen the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway. The result will be increasing greenhouse gases, air pollution, storm water runoff and New Jersey's dependency on cars.

Adding lanes to these three roads would cause significant environmental damage. Widening the Garden State Parkway will pave over portion of the Pinelands in Ocean County, and widening the New Jersey Turnpike will pave over critical wetlands areas. Acres of sensitive habitat will be destroyed in favor of new impermeable roadway that will contribute to local water pollution.

"The NJTA is using this toll increase to pave over New Jersey," said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

The thousands of additional cars the lanes are designed to carry will increase the annual output of greenhouse gases, thwarting New Jersey's most acclaimed and far sighted initiatives like the Global Warming Response Act. An increased use of diesel vehicles will raise levels of particulate matter air pollution, a known cancer causing agent.

The proposed fair increases will cost New Jersey drivers billions of dollars, but road widening will provide no guarantee of sustainable congestion relief. Historically - absent travel demand management strategies - the number of cars on roadways will increase to fill any new lanes in just a few years time.

"Instead of making room for more cars, New Jersey should invest in getting drivers off the road." said Tittel. "We need more seats in a more efficient public transportation system."

This summer as fuel prices reached record highs, rail and bus ridership also skyrocketed. NJ Transit reported increased ridership throughout the summer, while the Federal Highway Administration reports that Americans drove 53.2 billion less miles from November to May than in the same period a year earlier.

"High gas prices and traffic congested roadways are pushing more people onto trains and buses," Tittel said. "We need to meet the demand for public transportation, not provide a short sighted solution for drivers."

Mass transit, congestion pricing, high occupancy toll lanes, or, in the Turnpike's case, establishment of a freight management corridor, are more effective alternatives to manage congestion in the long run. The state should concentrate on these options, rather than on spending millions on new lanes that will harm the environment but do nothing to ease congestion.


Grace Sica, Outreach Coordinator NJ Sierra Club 145 W. Hanover St. Trenton, NJ 08618 p: 609-656-7612 f: 609-656-7618

Received on 2008-09-09 10:10:02

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at

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