Governor’s Budget safeguards state
share of highway, mass transit capital program
(Trenton) - Despite a $5 billion deficit, Governor James E. McGreevey ’s proposed FY 2004 budget will maintain the state’s $1.1 billion commitment to improve its highway and mass transit systems, while protecting initiatives to reduce congestion, sprawl and improve the quality of life for working families.
The $1.16 billion will the capital program of the Department of Transportation and NJ TRANSIT and maintain state funding for local aid at $150 million. The total size of the capital program, currently $2.5 billion, will be determined by the level of federal transportation aid allocated to New Jersey.
"Thanks to the Governor’s continued commitment to transportation, we will be able to advance our Smart Growth strategy, and work with communities to foster development that reduces congestion and sprawl, and improves air quality,” said acting Transportation Commissioner Jack Lettiere. “We will continue to focus our resources on fixing our existing infrastructure and expand rail service with the opening of the Secaucus Transfer Station, extension of Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and the startup of Southern New Jersey Light Rail system.”
The proposed $90.2 million operating budget for the DOT marks a $13.5 million or 9% reduction from the current budget. More than $5 million will be saved by freezing staffing at current levels and the end of one-time payments required under the early retirement program, which reduced the DOT’s ranks by over 500 employees last year.
The new budget will allow DOT to move ahead with a series of initiatives that will improve the safety and quality of its transportation network, address issues such as highway safety and signage, highway access, rail freight and pavement improvements.
“In the past year, under the Governor’s leadership the DOT has made critical strides in improving the quality of life for New Jersey’s citizens,” said Lettiere. “We’ve begun battling sprawl, repairing a neglected infrastructure and fixing the Division of Motor Vehicles. This budget will allow us to continue that work, despite a record deficit.”