|Issue 228||July 9, 1999|
NJ Department of Transportation lobbyists succeeded in winning elimination of all mention of bridges from the state-spending portion of the bill (see MTR #226) in Trenton two weeks ago.
A Quinnipiac College poll released last year showed that a large majority of registered New Jersey voters favored spending money on maintenance of existing roadways and public transit and over adding new roadway capacity (see MTR #185). The original wording of the bill conformed perfectly with the "Fix it First" message the Governor set forth in her 21st Century Transportation Vision statement. 21 percent of state-controlled bridges are structurally deficient. DOT has made little progress in advancing bridge repair projects over the past several years; a comparison of its plan for Whitman's 21st Century Vision goals and the NJ DOT Capital Program shows that in the next fiscal year, bridge repair spending will be $100 million short, and the gap will grow in succeeding years. On the other hand, the original bridge bond would have reduced much of the bridge repair backlog in New Jersey.
A memorandum of understanding spelling out the repairs that NJ DOT will
make with the bond money would allow the Governor to ensure that her and
the State Plan's highest transportation priority - preservation and maintenance
- will be treated that way.