For immediate release: September 19, 2007
Contact: Zoe Baldwin
Group Calls for Postponement of Turnpike Widening Project, Investigation of Other Alternatives
The Tri-State Transportation Campaign today called for the postponement of the NJ Turnpike Authority’s proposed widening of the Turnpike from Exits 6 to 9 until Governor Corzine releases the details of his monetization plan and other alternatives have been adequately studied.
“Before we spend millions on widening the NJ Turnpike, we have to make sure we are protecting our transportation investment,” said Zoe Baldwin, New Jersey Coordinator for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a policy watchdog group. “So far, there is no proof that the wider road will not fill with traffic within a few years.”
As it stands, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign is in opposition to the Turnpike project. Public hearings begin this week on the project’s Environmental Impact Statement; however, the EIS does not provide an in-depth analysis of alternatives or offer any guarantees for sustainable congestion relief. Compounding the issue, NJTA readily admits the lack of funding for the project.
Monetization of the toll roads looms as a very real possibility for New Jersey, and it is therefore fiscally irresponsible to expect taxpayers to approve spending hundreds of millions of on a road whose future is uncertain.
Alternatives that were not thoroughly investigated in the environmental review include High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes, cashless tolls, and expanded mass transit. These must be studied before the project moves forward. HOT lanes require lower occupancy vehicles to pay a premium toll to travel in lanes that are free for buses and carpools. Toll levels are adjusted to ensure that the lanes never become congested, ensuring drivers at least one option for a speedy trip.
It is well documented that widened roads quickly fill their added capacity, creating an expensive cycle of perpetual widening. In the past 10 years, NJ has made great strides towards sustainable development and fixing existing infrastructure and away from mindless road expansion projects. We should continue this trend to get the most out of our transportation investments.
Faced with a Transportation Trust Fund that has been operating in the red for a decade, and an estimated $7 billion bridge repair bill, it is inappropriate to prioritize the Turnpike widening. The Tri-State Transportation Campaign strongly urges NJTA to postpone any further work toward this widening until a comprehensive alternatives analysis is complete, Governor Corzine releases the details of his monetization plan, and the sustainability of the project (and the state investment) can be ensured.