Office of the Governor |
Turnpike and Highway Authorities
Consolidation to provide $130 million in savings,
avoid toll increase and provide for future roadway improvements
(Woodbridge) – At the Driscoll Bridge, Governor James E. McGreevey today signed legislation that will merge the two largest toll road authorities in New Jersey and eliminate duplicative spending for a savings of more than $130 million over the next 14 years. Senate Bill 2352/ Assembly Bill 3392 was sponsored by Senators Nick Sacco and Andrew Ciesla, and Assemblymembers John Wisniewski, Linda Stender and Jack Conners.
“The Driscoll Bridge is an example of the great projects that we can accomplish under a consolidated toll road agency—one agency that shares resources and works toward the common goal of improving transportation throughout our state,” said McGreevey. “Better coordination will mean better results, and better results will mean a better quality of life for New Jersey’s commuters.”
The toll road consolidation plan, which was proposed by Governor McGreevey in 2002, merges the New Jersey Highway Authority and New Jersey Turnpike Authority under a single executive director and management structure. The plan also restructures the debt of the two authorities, which will make millions of dollars available for badly needed construction projects and avoids toll increases on the Garden State Parkway. The merger is expected to save $4 million this year, and $9.8 million annually by 2008.
Governor McGreevey added that the coordination between the two agencies has already showed success through the current project to make necessary repairs to the Driscoll Bridge, a vital roadway that while located on the Garden State Parkway, is also a critical traffic feeder into the New Jersey Turnpike. Alone, the Highway Authority could not shoulder the cost of the necessary repairs to the Driscoll Bridge, but with shared resources of both authorities, the necessary improvements are being made.
Strong coordination and similarities between the two agencies and the growing need for new solutions to financial troubles made the possibility of consolidation become a reality.
Under Governor McGreevey’s plan, the merger process would begin with the refinancing of the Turnpike and Parkway debt, abolishment of the eight-person Parkway board of directors, merger of administrative operations and appointment of a single executive director of the system.
Once the refinancing is complete and the Turnpike assumes the Parkway debt, the two agencies will become one for the first time in roughly 50 year histories. By taking advantage of current low interest rates, the process is expected to be complete in July.
“Once this occurs we can begin to consolidate operations by eliminating duplicative administrative functions such as procurement, human resources, and law,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Jack Lettiere. “The savings will allow us to begin focusing on other vital projects proposed by Governor McGreevey including the implementation of Express E-ZPass.”
"Merging the toll road authorities into one super-agency makes a lot of sense, especially considering the current budget crisis facing this State," said Sacco, (D-Hudson). "New Jersey's drivers need to be assured that we are doing everything in our power to save them money."
"In these difficult economic times, the state needs to work smarter on behalf of taxpayers and motorists," said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). "The merger of these two agencies moves New Jersey in the right direction. It paves the way to less bureaucracy and significant cost savings."
"New Jersey has reached a new crossroads in transportation management," said Stender (D-Union). "This is a victory for everyone who wants smarter, more efficient, and more accountable government."
"Many of my constituents who travel the AC Expressway for business and recreation have spoken to me about streamlining the Expressway and SJTA operations," said Conners (D-Camden). "Merging the Turnpike and Highway authorities makes economic sense, and I would like to see the SJTA considered for restructuring in the future so South Jersey's expanding transportation needs are better served."