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Source : New Jersey State Route 444, Wikimedia Commons
July 19, 2022
Author : Patty Allen
If you are a resident of New Jersey or regularly commute through the garden state, you might have noticed an upgrading of the transit infrastructure.
Due to low traffic volume, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) worked during the pandemic to improve the roads and bridges in the state.
The New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund Authority (TTFA) works along with the state DOT. The TTFA is an independent state agency with the mission of financing the costs of "planning, acquisition, engineering, construction, reconstruction, repair, and rehabilitation of the state's transportation system."
The state Senate and Assembly voted to increase the Transportation Trust Fund's spending limit by $600 million, bringing it to $2 billion by the fiscal year 2024.
The Senate approved the merged legislation unanimously, while the Assembly voted 75-2, with two members abstaining and one not voting. The funding is included in the $50.6 billion state budget.
If Gov. Phil Murphy signs the bill, it will offset an additional $600 million investment made in the fiscal year 2021 to capitalize on extremely low traffic levels during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to the lack of rush-hour commuter traffic during spring 2020, the NJDOT was able to close highway lanes for construction earlier in the morning and later into the evening. For example, a 12-mile pavement project on Interstate 287 was completed eight to nine months ahead of schedule in 2020 because NJDOT officials were able to "let the contractor stay out there longer."
As traffic volume increased later in 2020, the emphasis shifted to using the highway, bridge, and transit construction as an economic stimulus, putting billions of dollars of construction projects on the road to help the state economy. The state put $600 million into the trust fund to expedite this work.
With the passage of the $1 trillion federal infrastructure bill, which includes at least $13.5 billion for transportation projects in New Jersey and provides federal funding for the long-awaited Gateway Tunnel under the Hudson River, the emphasis has shifted once more.
Almost 8% of New Jersey's bridges are in poor condition and are structurally deficient. The IIJA authorizes $40 billion in new funding for bridge repair, replacement, and rehabilitation, representing the single largest dedicated bridge investment in more than 50 years.
According to the NJDOT's Transportation Asset Management Plan, the state highway system infrastructure funding gap is more than $256 million per year. Over the next five years, the IIJA would provide an additional $8 billion in funding.
With additional funding, commuters can look forward to a smoother ride across New Jersey.
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