[an error occurred while processing this directive]
The Commissioner's Report
Governor sets up Blue Ribbon Commission
The First Annual Governor's Transportation Conference was held on January 7 at the New Brunswick Hyatt. The event, sponsored by the New Jersey Alliance for Action, brought together lawmakers and experts from across the state to discuss New Jersey's transportation needs and outline strategy for the coming year.
At the conference, Governor McGreevey signed an executive order creating a Blue Ribbon Transportation Commission to study and develop recommendations on the pressing transportation issues confronting New Jersey as the renewal of the Trust Fund approaches.
Governor McGreevey delivered the keynote note address to the more than 1,200 attendees, stressing the value of a healthy transportation network to the everyday lives of working families. In his speech, the Governor called on the Department of Transportation to build upon the successes of 2002, including Fix-it-First, Smart Growth, E-ZPass improvements and reform efforts at DMV.
He emphasized the importance of a stable source of transportation funding and the government's responsibility to present a long-term strategy for improvement. Under the Governor's direction, NJDOT has brought back Madeline Rumowicz to undertake the first statewide, ten year Transportation Master Plan since 1979.
"The plan will be our vision for New Jersey and it will be coordinated with the State's plans for growth and economic development," said the Governor. The comprehensive Master Plan will incorporate Smart Growth development, identify a list of specific projects critical for safety and congestion relief, and the map out the consolidation of the State's transportation authorities.
The Executive Order calls for the funding of 20,000 new Park and Ride spaces near NJ TRANSIT stations. With the executive order, the Governor has directed NJDOT and other state transportation agencies to implement expedited project completion schedules and to place a priority on projects that relieve congestion and improve highway safety.
The State Transportation Trust Fund is the primary funding source for such projects in New Jersey. The State also receives about half of its funding each year from the Federal Transportation Enhancement Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). Both programs are scheduled for renewal.
New Jersey faces a transportation system in which all modes of transportation are at or above capacity, a system with 2000 deteriorating bridges and a system with some of the most congested roads in the country.
"The new Blue Ribbon Commission will make recommendations for funding and help establish priorities to guide the State as we begin the effort to renew the Transportation Trust Fund," the Governor said.