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The Commissioner's Report
NJDOT unveils $2.5 billion Capital Program
On March 3, I joined with NJ TRANSIT Executive Director George Warrington to announce a proposed $2.58 billion capital program for the Department of Transportation and NJ TRANSIT that advances Governor McGreevey's anti-sprawl "Smart Growth" initiative, while supporting over 100,000 jobs.
The program, which has been presented to the Legislature for its approval, would be funded with $1.16 billion in state funding and $1.42 billion in federal funding. In a time of fiscal crisis, Governor McGreevey has maintained the state's commitment to transportation infrastructure. The Governor's budget will enable NJDOT to fund 'Fix It First' projects, enhance safety and improve the quality-of-life for working families throughout the State.
Among others, the $1.3 billion for NJDOT projects will provide $183 million for safety and roadway preservation, $126 million for congestion relief, and $290 million for bridge repairs. The $1.3 billion for NJ TRANSIT will provide $222 million for rail infrastructure, $172 million for new locomotives and rail cars, and more than $100 million for safety and other service improvements.
Major NJDOT projects include the reconstruction of sections of I-80 in Bergen County and I-295 in Camden and Burlington counties. For the second year in a row, just 4% of the overall program will be used for highway expansion projects, significantly lower than the 20 percent level of previous programs. The same amount of work is on the street. We have simply redirected the funds towards projects that repair and improve the infrastructure we already have.
To encourage Smart Growth and redevelopment in urban and older suburban areas, our program will advance a series of projects that would increase mobility and accessibility, such as improved access from I-280 to downtown Newark and from I-676 to downtown Camden. Substantial funding is proposed for the reconstruction of the Holland Tunnel approaches in Jersey City.
The program also proposes $265 million in Local Aid support for county and municipal road projects. As part of the program, $5 million is set aside for urban areas and $3 million is proposed for transportation improvements for communities designated as "centers of place" under the State Development and Redevelopment Guide Plan.
Safety improvements are addressed in the proposed program through a series of short-term and long-term highway intersection projects designed to reduce accidents and traffic circle elimination projects.
The proposed program is aggressive and it will satisfy many of New Jersey's transportation needs. However, this year alone there will still be more than $2 billion worth of unfunded NJDOT and NJ TRANSIT project that are ready to go to construction. These are needs that will go unmet.
I am committed to securing additional funding for critical transportation projects. We will have an excellent opportunity with the reauthorization of the federal Transportation Enhancement Act (TEA 21) and with the renewal of the State's Transportation Trust Fund. We have proposed a significant program for FY'04, and we will work very hard with every level of government to ensure we have the resources to fund more in the future.