TRENTON, N.J. – Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation (S876/A2607) today improving the efficiency and costs of Transportation Trust Fund projects and creating a research center in the Department of Transportation.
Assemblymen Anthony M. Bucco and Hal Wirths, sponsors of the bill, said the new law will reduce delays in planning and bidding and save money.
“This legislation will broaden the impact of trust fund spending and provide significant savings for our taxpayers well into the future,” said Bucco (R-Morris). “If we are going to improve our failing infrastructure, the state must do a better job with the TTF money.”
The American Society of Civil Engineers gave New Jersey’s infrastructure a D+ in their 2016 report card. Almost 9 percent of bridges in the state were designated as structurally deficient, and more than 40 percent of roads were deficient.
The law requires the DOT to collaborate with counties to create a priority list of highway projects based on the availability of funds. It also permits the bundling of projects funded in part or completely through TTF. Projects that are similar in size and scope could be included under a single contract, which would expedite approvals, control costs and get projects moving.
“With the cost saving, we can stretch the money in the transportation trust fund even farther so more improvements can be completed,” said Bucco.
Under the law, the Transportation Trust Fund Authority can hire 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.”
A critical element of the TTF is federal matching dollars, which the law maximizes by creating a DOT research center that will award grants to state universities to conduct research. The grants will secure funding from the federal University Transportation Centers Program and influence best practices.
The bill passed the Legislature unanimously on June 20 and the law takes effect immediately. Assemblyman Parker Space (R-Sussex) is also a cosponsor. The Senate version of the legislation is sponsored by Senator Steve Oroho (R-Sussex).