For immediate release
June 11, 2008
New Jersey Turnpike Authority data obtained by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign shows that driving on the NJ Turnpike has been relatively stagnant since 2005, bringing into question a $2 billion project to widen the Turnpike between exits 6 and 9.
“With driving on the Turnpike flatlining because of rising gas prices and other trends, should we be spending billions to expand a roadway? We say the answer is no,” said Kate Slevin, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a regional policy watchdog organization.
Recent data from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) shows average monthly traffic growth on the Turnpike leveling off since 2005. From April 2005 to April 2008, the number of vehicles using all seven New Jersey Turnpike entries in the project area (Exits 6, 6A, 7, 7A, 8, 8A, 9) has stagnated.
Looking even farther back, between 2002 and 2007, average annual traffic growth was just .7%. The most recent annual data shows traffic on the roadway actually declined 1.1% between 2006 and 2007.
Meanwhile, the foundation for the Turnpike project is pre-2002 data, when traffic growth rates were much higher than they are today. Between 1990 and 2002, traffic increased an average of 2.6% annually.
“This project is a dinosaur,” said Zoe Baldwin, New Jersey Advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “It’s based on outdated numbers, concepts, and trends.”
The new data also brings into question NJTA’s traffic growth projections in the project area through 2032, another foundation for the Turnpike expansion project. NJTA predicts annual traffic increases of 2.4% northbound and 3.4% southbound, numbers that are much higher than actual trends.
The $2 billion dollar project, which is currently in the environmental review phase, would add up to three lanes in each direction (170 lane miles total) to the New Jersey Turnpike between exits 6 and 9.
The Tri-State Transportation Campaign believes that cheaper alternatives, such as an updated variable tolling scheme, a freight management corridor, or more mass transit, could offer greater congestion reduction benefits at a fraction of the cost. The organization obtained the traffic data from the NJTA last month through an Open Public Records Act request.
The Tri-State Transportation Campaign is a not-for-profit organization advocating for a more environmentally sound and equitable transportation network in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.