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Christie Transportation Plan Going Nowhere

Date : Thu, 6 Jan 2011 14:56:21 -0500

 

For Immediate Release
January 06, 2011 Contact Jeff Tittel, 609-558-9100

Christie Transportation Plan Going Nowhere

More New Jersey residents will be stuck in traffic on falling down bridges going nowhere if more serious action is not taken to address funding the Transportation Trust Fund.

"Governor Christie is delaying the problem yet again instead of presenting a real solution to fund the Transportation Trust Fund" said Jeff Tittel, Director of NJ Sierra Club. "The Governor's plan equates to trying to fill in a pot hole while the bridge around them is collapsing."

The Governor announced today that $8 billion will be available over 5 years for transportation projects. $3.6 billion of the money will be borrowed, with an additional $2.6 billion added to the state's current debt.

The Governor said today he will be borrowing less money than administrations in previous years.

"Its similar to going on a diet and eating only two bananas instead of three" responded Jeff Tittel. "The Governor's plan is still fiscally unsound".

The remaining money will come from diverted ARC tunnel funding and Turnpike Authority and Port Authority funding.

Close to three-quarters of the money is coming from increased borrowing and suspending the ARC tunnel.

"It's the same problem we have seen in previous administrations: borrowing money from other pots instead of raising the gas tax," said Jeff Tittel. "Killing the ARC tunnel project to raid funds to replenish the TTF is irresponsible and bad transportation policy. New Jersey still needs a tunnel to New York City and a long term solution for transportation funding".

New Jersey is ranked 49th in the nation for road maintenance with about 50% of our roads and bridges deficient and in need of repair or replacement.

Currently the New Jersey Transit System is in need of major upgrades, improvements, and expansion including the South Jersey light rail project and the Middlesex-Monmouth-Ocean line.

New Jersey currently has the lowest gas tax of any state that does not produce oil. Today every penny of the gas tax goes to the payment of debt from past projects.

"Our current bonds won't be paid off for another thirty years over which time the roads maintained with the money will need to be repaved three to four more times" said Jeff Tittel.

The Transportation Trust Fund needs new revenue sources which can come from a variety sources. Increasing the gas tax by ten cents or extending the state sales tax to cover gasoline is one solution. Other options include a value added tax on road improvements that increase local property values, "cash out parking" where developers receive incentives for projects that are accessible to mass transit and therefore require fewer parking spaces, and implementing surcharges on parking in urban centers to subsidize transit, similar to the model in Boston Massachusetts.

Precious Trust Fund dollars can also be saved by not investing in capacity expansion projects and using "flex" or reversible lanes on the Turnpike and other major highways. Only 6% or less of the money should go to new roads and expansions. The majority of the Fund's money, 94%, must go to fixing dilapidated roads and bridges and expanding mass transit rather than investing in expanding capacity, which only promotes sprawl and overdevelopment. New Jersey does not have the funding to maintain its current system and expanding the system will only result in higher maintenance costs.

"NJ needs a state stem cell research center to develop spines for the Governor and legislators to increase the gas tax," said Jeff Tittel.

Kate Millsaps, Program Assistant NJ Sierra Club 145 W. Hanover Street Trenton, NJ 08618 609.656.7612 (f) 609.656.7618  <http://www.newjersey.sierraclub.org/> www.newjersey.sierraclub.org  

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Received on 2011-01-06 11:56:21

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 nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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