NJ Drivers Say Road, Bridge Conditions Getting Worse
A new Fairleigh Dickinson poll shows that nearly a third of New Jersey adults believe the condition of our roads and bridges is getting worse. Only 16% believe quality has been improving. This comes after the gas tax increase in 2016 to replenish the Transportation Trust Fund and raise revenue for transportation projects. That tax has since increased to 41 cents a gallon.
“Our broken bridges and ruined roads are part of the price we are paying for years of inadequate transportation funding. It’s not a surprise that many people believe conditions are actually getting worse since the gas tax increase. We’re not making fast enough progress. After 20 years of neglect it will take time to catch up. We are on a treadmill to gridlock. One bridge gets fixed, another bridge needs to get fixed. Half the money from the gas tax is now going to debt service to pay off road improvements for the last 10 years. They borrowed from the future instead of pay-as-you-go, and now we are paying for that,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.
Department of Transportation officials say the gas tax has allowed more miles of highway to be repaired and has doubled funding to fix local bridges. They also said they’ve been able to allocate $400 million to fund local road projects that would have been paid for with local property taxes.
“We still have massive backlogs of bridge and road repairs, and they’re not being done. We still have major projects for NJ Transit that aren’t being built. We have light rail projects that aren’t moving forward. We’re not pay-as-you-go, instead we’re paying off past projects and we don’t have enough money. The NJ Transit nightmare just keeps continuing. They’re taking $460 million in capital money and using it for operations and maintenance,” said Tittel. “The TTF relies on the gas tax, and people are driving less and using less gasoline, That will put even more pressure on future increases to maintain transportation funding that already is insufficient.”
The gas tax was first increased in 2016 under Gov. Christie. The State Treasurer is required to raise the tax annually if revenues do not meet goals. The growth in more fuel-efficient vehicles is reducing gasoline use, lowering those revenues. The gas tax has increased to 41 cents a gallon.
“New Jersey must start spending more money on fixing our dilapidated bridges and roads, and on improving public transportation. One closed bridge or roadway lane in a crucial area can create miles of gridlock. People aren’t happy with what they’re experiencing while driving, and with good reason. There’s been some progress, but not nearly enough. The state needs to speed up its repair work,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.