PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release

May 7, 2008

Contact

Zoe Baldwin, Kate Slevin
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
(212) 268-7474

Analysis Shows Smart Investment Trend at NJDOT Continues, but Points to Trouble Ahead

Report finds wider roads will comprise a growing share of future transportation dollars

A new analysis of the NJDOT’s capital program shows a continued commitment to maintenance and repair, but finds a worrying trend of increased investment in highway expansion in coming years. The report was released today by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a regional policy watchdog organization.

New Jersey remains a national model for progressive transportation policy and investments, for now,” said Kate Slevin, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “But this analysis shows that the Garden State will soon lose that title, unless NJDOT renews its commitment to smart growth and fix-it-first.”

The report finds that 44% of the NJDOT’s 2009 capital program is dedicated to fixing and maintaining roadways and bridges, with only 1.5% going to expansion projects. In future years, however, the percentage slated for highway expansion grows to nearly 8%.

New Jersey must reaffirm its commitment to fix-it-first policies,” said Zoe Baldwin, New Jersey Coordinator for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “If we fall into old-fashioned ways of doing business, our quality of life, safety, and mobility will be threatened.”

Several themes emerged from Tri-State’s analysis:

1.          NJDOT continues to prioritize road and bridge maintenance, dedicating 44% of the FY2009 capital spending to repair, rehabilitation, resurfacing, and replacement projects.  NJDOT’s prioritization of “fix-it-first” projects is critical given the state’s pressing infrastructure needs – the Garden State boasts the second worst roads in the nation, according to the most recent data from the Federal Highway Administration.

2.          Spending on capacity expansion projects is projected to increase in coming years, threatening to undermine NJDOT’s “fix-it-first” goals.  While FY2009 funding for expansion projects remains a sliver of the total capital program at just 1.5%, by 2011 the share of total funding slated for widening and new roads is projected to jump to nearly 8%.

3.          Progress on smart growth projects has stalled.  Only a handful of the 17 New Jersey Future in Transportation (NJFIT) smart growth projects in the hopper are slated to receive funding.  And two of the projects originally tapped for smart growth improvements have been transformed into major widening projects, all but abandoning efforts to find a more sustainable congestion relief solution.

4.          Funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects has slipped, with the total amount dedicated to those improvements falling 14% and the share of total funding declining by 12%.  Sustained funding is critical if the state hopes to continue to reduce bicyclist and pedestrian deaths.  According to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, New Jersey ranks second worst in the nation in terms of the share of total traffic deaths comprised of bicyclists and pedestrians.

The Campaign offers several recommendations for halting NJDOT’s backsliding:

The full report can be found at www.tstc.org/reports/NJDOT_Trouble_Ahead.pdf

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign is a non-profit organization working toward a more balanced, transit-friendly and equitable transportation system in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.