PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release:
May 16, 2011

Contact:
Janna Chernetz, Kate Slevin
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
(609) 271-0778, (212) 268-7474

Revised September 2012

Analysis Points to Trouble Ahead for NJDOT

Report finds planned increase in spending on new road construction and elimination of funding for smart growth programs

A new analysis of the NJDOT’s proposed fiscal year 2012 capital program shows maintenance and repair making up the largest category of spending, but also finds a higher percentage of funds going to highway and bridge expansion than in any year in a nearly a decade. The report was released today by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a regional policy watchdog organization.

“The analysis makes us concerned the NJDOT is taking on too many new road widening projects that it cannot afford and moving away from smart transportation policies,” said Kate Slevin, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

The group expressed concern that funding for signature smart growth programs and projects that have made New Jersey a national leader in smart transportation policy, had been eliminated.

“The Transit Village program is popular with municipalities because it helps them target development to the most appropriate location, near rail and bus hubs,” said Janna Chernetz, New Jersey Advocate for TSTC. “But Transit Village funding has been completely eliminated from the 2012 program.”

The report finds that nearly 44% of the NJDOT’s proposed 2012 capital program is dedicated to fixing and maintaining roadways and bridges, while almost 11% of funds are going to road expansion projects. Spending on roadway and bridge maintenance still makes up the largest portion of the proposed budget, but the agency will be spending a larger portion of its capital program on new construction than it has in any year in nearly a decade. Spending on new road capacity was 3.6% of the capital program in 2009 and 8.9% in 2011, and has generally hovered around 5% since 2004. 

The group praised NJDOT for increasing spending on biking and walking projects. Funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects is now 2.7% of the agency’s overall spending, showing the agency’s continued commitment to making streets safer for all users.

Several themes emerged from Tri-State’s analysis:

  1. Road and bridge maintenance continue to make up the largest percentage of NJDOT’s capital program budget. The agency is dedicating almost 44% of the fiscal year 2012 capital spending to rehabilitation, repair, resurfacing, and replacement projects.  NJDOT must prioritize a “fix-it-first” strategy given the poor condition of the state’s existing infrastructure.
  2. Spending on road capacity expansion projects makes up nearly 11% of the capital program, the largest percentage in nearly a decade, threatening to undermine the state’s “fix-it-first” goals. 
  3. Funding for signature smart growth programs has been reduced or eliminated. The capital program defunds the popular Transit Village and Centers of Place programs.  In addition, projects that are part of the NJ Future in Transportation  (NJ FIT) program have been cut.
  4. Funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects shows NJDOT’s commitment to pedestrian and bicyclist safety.  At 2.7% of the proposed capital program, NJDOT remains a national leader in spending on this area. Sustained funding is critical if the state hopes to continue to reduce bicyclist and pedestrian deaths.

The report offers the following recommendations for the Governor, State Legislature and NJDOT:

The full report can be found at http://www.tstc.org/publications.php

###

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.