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New Jersey to Shut Down Hundreds of Transportation Projects

Thursday, July 7, 2016   (0 Comments)
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NYT.com 07/07/16

Hundreds of projects to replace bridges, resurface roads and renovate transit stations across New Jersey will grind to a halt by Friday night, after state lawmakers failed to reach a deal last week on raising the gas tax. The 50-page list of transportation projects that will be shut down includes work in every corner of the state, from Bergen County in the north to Cape May at the southern tip. The State Transportation Department’s projects totaled $775 million, and New Jersey Transit’s projects added up to $2.7 billion. The list includes work on Route 166 in Toms River, the replacement of a bridge in Mercer County and the rehabilitation of a bus garage in Paterson. 

On Wednesday, the Assembly speaker, Vincent Prieto, said the Assembly had worked hard to reach a deal and wanted to find a solution that Mr. Christie could support. He has said state lawmakers could return to Trenton next week to work on a funding agreement. “This is an unfortunate situation that re-emphasizes the need for a transportation funding solution as soon as possible,” Mr. Prieto said of the work shutdown. “We cannot allow this to continue. Public safety and livelihoods are at risk.”

The governor’s decision to shut down projects shocked political and business leaders and prompted concerns over workers losing their jobs. State lawmakers have targeted the gas tax because it is the second lowest in the country, at 14.5 cents per gallon. Some New Jerseyans were pleased that gas prices remained low over the Fourth of July weekend, but they could soon learn that their communities will be affected by the work stoppage. Stephen M. Sweeney, the Senate president, said his staff was examining several options for a transportation funding deal with Mr. Christie. Mr. Sweeney has favored legislation to phase out the estate tax in exchange for raising the gas tax, but Mr. Christie said he did not support the idea. “He didn’t have to do it so quickly,” Mr. Sweeney said. “We should be trying to find a solution.”


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