Reform at NJDOT

Tri-State's 2008 report Trouble Ahead warned that NJDOT may be beginning to deviate from a fix-it-first approach.

Since 2005, the NJ Dept. of Transportation has been a national model for smart growth-oriented transportation planning, seeking through new planning methods to put a stop to "the cycle of growth and widening that has plagued one of the nation’s most congested states."  Former NJ Transportation Commissioner Jack Lettiere has said, "We can’t build our way out of congestion, but can ease congestion if we build the right things." The agency has stuck to a "fix-it-first" philosophy on highways, spending about 5% of its road budget on major expansion projects compared to nearly 50% in the mid-90s.

Innovative NJDOT projects include scrapping the proposed Millstone Bypass east of Princeton in favor of a less destructive alternative, replacing Route 29 in Trenton with a waterfront boulevard that will allow for redevelopment, and a joint Transit Village Initiative with NJTransit that seeks to encourage residential, recreational and commercial development near existing transit hubs.

However, in recent years changing leadership and economic challenges have resulted in the agency has losing its smart-growth oriented focus as some of the best projects have stalled. Additionally, these reforms have not spread to other state agencies including the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. 

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