Bill to pave road for more efficient Transportation Trust Fund spending awaits governor’s signature

Bill to pave road for more efficient Transportation Trust Fund spending awaits governor’s signature

Anthony M. Bucco

TRENTON, N.J. – Transportation projects would be completed sooner and more economically under a bill advancing to the governor’s desk after passing the Assembly today. Sponsored by Assemblymen Anthony Bucco and Hal Wirths, the measure (S876/A2607) improves the efficiency of administering Transportation Trust Fund work by reducing delays in planning and bidding.

“Our roads and highways are in horrible condition and are the most expensive in the nation to repair,” said Bucco (R-Morris). “The Department of Transportation needs to determine where our money is going, how it is being spent, and how to get more bang for the taxpayer buck. This legislation will broaden the impact of trust fund spending and provide significant savings for our taxpayers well into the future.”

New Jersey spends eight times the national average in the administration of TTF activity, and a report last year found that state highways cost more than $2 million per mile to maintain.

New Jersey’s infrastructure has routinely received poor ratings from national civil engineers groups, including a D+ rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers’ infrastructure report card in 2016. Almost 9 percent of bridges in the state were designated as structurally deficient, and more than 40 percent of roads were deficient.

Harold J. Wirths

“If we are going to improve our failing infrastructure, the state must do a better job with the TTF money,” said Bucco. “Increasing efficiency increases economy. With the cost saving, we can stretch the money in the transportation trust fund even farther so more improvements can be completed.”

The bill requires the Department of Transportation to create a priority list of highway projects for each county based on grant money received. It also allows the hiring of consultants to track and report on transportation spending to provide badly needed transparency.

“Taxpayers are making a heavy investment in the state infrastructure and it’s vitally important that money is used efficiently,” said Wirths (R-Sussex). “With this legislation, we can be more productive with every dollar spent. Our roadways and our taxpayers will benefit.”

Federal matching dollars are maximized by a DOT research center created by the bill to award grants to colleges that obtain federal funding.

Also, it would permit bundling of funds for projects that are similar in size and scope, expediting approvals to get projects moving. Currently the approval process alone could take six months.

Assemblyman Parker Space (R-Sussex) is also a cosponsor.  The Senate version of the legislation is sponsored by Senator Steve Oroho (R-Sussex).