Governor Corzine announces congestion relief
on Route 17
(Lodi) – Governor Jon S. Corzine today announced plans to reduce congestion on a 7.6-mile segment of Route 17 in Bergen County, highlighting the need for a long-term funding source for critical transportation projects. The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) will widen Route 17 to a consistent six lanes from Williams Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights to south of Route 4 in Paramus, Bergen County.
“The congestion on Route 17 underscores the need for a stable, dedicated long-term transportation funding source,” said Governor Corzine. “Restructuring our state’s finances will enable us to reduce congestion on Route 17 and fund long-overdue congestion relief projects throughout New Jersey.”
In his State of the State address last week, Governor Corzine outlined the fiscal problems facing New Jersey – including the lack of permanent funding for the state’s Transportation Trust Fund, which will have no money for new work in three years. The governor’s plan would freeze spending, give voters far more control over future borrowing, and would provide a dedicated revenue stream for transportation projects like the Route 17 congestion relief.
The Route 17 congestion relief project will appear in NJDOT’s first-ever Ten Year Transportation Capital Program, which will be released in spring 2008. The Route 17 congestion relief project, which would cost an estimated $305.3 million, will reduce congestion and improve quality of life in Rochelle Park, Maywood, Lodi, Hackensack, Hasbrouck Heights, Wood-Ridge, Carlstadt and East Rutherford. NJDOT will eliminate bottlenecks by expanding Route 17 to six lanes in 2.5 miles of roadway that currently consist of four or five lanes. NJDOT could begin the feasibility assessment and environmental studies for the Route 17 congestion relief project as early as 2009.
“Widening Route 17 will improve roadway safety and enable Bergen County commuters and residents to spend less time struck in traffic,” said NJDOT Commissioner Kris Kolluri. “Governor Corzine’s financial restructuring plan will provide a stable and robust Transportation Trust Fund and allow NJDOT to address our roadways’ capital needs in ten-year intervals.”
Expanding Route 17 to six lanes will eliminate two of the State’s worst traffic bottlenecks by increasing roadway capacity and improving traffic flow. Route 17 is the most congested corridor in the State of New Jersey. Approximately 109,621 vehicles use this stretch of roadway every day.
In addition, this congestion relief project will help decrease rear-end and side impact collisions, which often occur in stop-and-go traffic conditions. The accident rate on Route 17 in this area is significantly higher than the statewide average. In 2006, 2,142 crashes, 893 injuries and two fatalities occurred on Route 17 in Bergen County.
Congestion significantly impacts New Jersey’s economy and quality of life. New Jersey residents waste more than a full work-week, or 52 hours per year, stuck in traffic. The cost of congestion in New Jersey is $8.6 billion. New Jerseyans consume between $345 million and $400 million annually in fuel due to traffic congestion. By 2015, total traffic will grow by 18 percent more vehicle miles traveled on New Jersey’s highways and freeways.
New Jersey's Transportation Trust Fund is currently due to expire in 2011. Without this funding, potholes cannot be filled, roads cannot be built and bridges cannot be maintained safely. Failure to replenish the Transportation Trust fund would prevent New Jersey from buying new buses, adding trains or improving transit services, while sacrificing billions in federal transit dollars.
The Governor's financial restructuring and debt reduction initiative uses the value in New Jersey's toll roads to pay down 50 percent of the State's debt and permanently fund statewide transportation improvements. The financial restructuring and debt initiative would also call for all future debt without a dedicated revenue source to be approved by voters.