$1.8 billion program proposed
New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner John J. Haley, Jr. today proposed a $1.8 billion Fiscal Year 1998 Transportation Capital Program -- one of the largest transportation capital programs in state history.
"This program ensures that New Jersey’s economy remains strong and prosperous," said Governor Christine Todd Whitman. "The state’s transportation system not only energizes our economy, it provides the foundation for continued growth."
The spending plan was officially transmitted today to the Legislature for approval and inclusion in Governor Whitman’s state budget for the new fiscal year beginning July 1, 1997. As part of the ongoing budget process, NJ TRANSIT’s Board of Directors approved their $590 million portion of the transportation plan February 25, 1997.
"This program also prepares New Jersey to meet today’s needs and the challenges of tomorrow," the Governor said. "In today’s global economy, transportation is critical to ensuring that we remain economically competitive."
"New Jersey has the nation’s most diverse and heavily-utilized transportation system," Commissioner Haley said. "This program balances system preservation, traffic improvement and economic development. At the same time, it is environmentally-friendly and promotes clean air, enhances goods movement and will help us make great strides in improving the quality of life for all our citizens. We are not only advancing transit initiatives, but also critical construction-ready projects."
"This program also provides funding to advance the Atlantic City-Brigantine project, which will bring a great many benefits to one of New Jersey’s largest urban areas," Haley said.
"Among those benefits are development of the marina area, creation of 86,000 construction jobs and 16,500 new jobs, and $275 million in annual state and local tax revenues."
"This program also allows NJ TRANSIT to meet the challenge of moving New Jerseyans efficiently and safely throughout the state," Haley said. "The program reflects our priority on the passengers who use the system every day. Passenger safety, security and comfort will be the benchmarks of our public transit initiatives."
"In addition, this capital program provides funding to support increased goods movement and rail freight activity in light of the proposed Conrail merger," Haley said.
"In line with the Governor’s emphasis on supporting local governments, this programs provides $270 million to counties and municipalities. This helps keeps property taxes down, while giving communities the means to undertake critical repairs and improvements to their road system -- roads that each of us rely on every day."
In order to advance many of the projects that are ready to go, Commissioner Haley requested an increased appropriation from the Transportation Trust Fund of $200 million. This increase is made possible by lower than anticipated financing costs in the Trust Fund and will not affect the overall financial outlook of the current Trust Fund authorization act.
"This is proposed program was developed with considerable outreach to local, county and state officials, and to the state’s three Metropolitan Planning Organizations," Haley said. "It is a dynamic and deliberative process that ensures New Jersey’s communities and counties have input into the development of not only this program, but the draft multi-year Transportation Improvement Plan."
In addition to ongoing roadway preservation projects, NJDOT is directing major attention to New Jersey’s bridge needs, especially high cost bridges. There are more than 15 bridges in this category that will require replacement or major rehabilitation in the next seven years at a total cost of more than $1.4 billion.