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news release

Contact: John Graf
RELEASE: February 26, 1997

State opens bidding process for
Enhanced Inspection and Maintenance system

New system to address air quality

The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), through the State Treasurer, today released bid documents soliciting prospective vendors for the state’s enhanced motor vehicle inspection program. When fully operational, the new system will help New Jersey meet its federally mandated clean air goals and provide for a more modern, streamlined and efficient emissions and safety inspection program.

"Every New Jersey motorist is going to benefit from this new and enhanced program," said Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner John J. Haley, Jr. "This is a very proactive and efficient way of managing the inspection and maintenance of cars on our roads, and a significant step toward improving safety and air quality in the state."

"The fact that New Jersey recently met the federal standard for carbon monoxide is a clear measure of the progress we have made in our fight against air pollution," said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Shinn. "Enhanced inspection and maintenance will be an important tool as we continue to make progress toward attaining the federal ozone standard."

New and enhanced inspection stations and services will be available to New Jersey motorists in early 1998. The program, which will include new and enhanced inspection locations, a two-year inspection cycle and a streamlined inspection process that will minimize waiting time for motorists, is being designed and implemented to meet federal requirements under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.

Prior to full implementation of the program, the state will develop a voluntary demonstration program scheduled to begin this year. Several demonstration lanes will be established at existing inspection facilities. Motorists who voluntarily have their vehicles inspected using the enhanced emissions test will receive a two-year inspection sticker.

"The enhanced inspection and maintenance program will afford motorists many of the same features they now experience, such as choice of where they can take their vehicles," said Haley. "There are other new features, including exemptions or limited requirements for certain vehicle classifications, waivers and a requirement that older vehicles pass only the current emissions test for a valid two year inspection sticker. The greatest degree of customer convenience has been factored into the new program."

The new enhanced inspection and maintenance (I/M) program is specifically being designed with features that make service to the motorist the highest priority. Those features include:

  • A two-year inspection cycle instead of every year as currently required.
  • Continuing current flexibility for the motorist to choose between taking their vehicle to a centralized inspection lane or to a licensed service station for a fee.
  • Exemptions for historic cars and "collector" cars, a new classification of vehicles that are registered as such and driven fewer than 3,000 miles per year. These vehicles are completely exempt from inspection.
  • Limited test requirements for newer vehicles driven fewer than 5,000 miles per year (or 10,000 miles bi-annually). These "low mileage" vehicles will be exempt from the enhanced tailpipe emission inspection test and be required to take a high-idle test.
  • Passing the existing idle test and a gas cap pressure check only for 1980 and older model year vehicles. These vehicles will not be required to take the enhanced emission test.
  • Inspection waivers that can be issued at centralized inspection stations to owners of vehicles which fail the enhanced emissions test. To qualify, at least $200 must have been spent on emission repairs and the vehicle must be able to pass the existing idle test.
  • A new automated wait time reporting system will be required for all centralized inspection lanes that will allow motorists to call ahead for wait time information at any given station.

The NJDOT/Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) believes 19 of its 35 inspection stations are able to be expanded with new lanes and retrofitted for use in the new program. An additional five stations are not expandable, but could be retrofitted with new emissions testing equipment and continue to serve the public.

Due to their age and design, the NJDOT/MVS has identified 11 inspection stations that will be phased out as a new system is implemented. The process of phasing in new stations will give primary consideration to accommodating the needs of regional users. A map is attached showing the locations and categories of all the stations.

To implement this new enhanced program, the state has issued three requests for proposals (RFPs) for prospective vendors:

  • a RFP to design, build and potentially operate and maintain a centralized test-only inspection network of lanes for conducting enhanced emission testing and safety inspections. Bidders submitting proposals for this RFP will be will be required to submit two proposals to the state: one proposing to build a complete enhanced inspection network that would be operated by the state; the other would address building the system and operating it through a private vendor for a seven-year period;
  • a RFP for a project manager to oversee the inspection and maintenance program implementation;
  • and a RFP to develop a computer network between Motor Vehicle Services and private garages interested in being licensed as private inspection facilities to conduct a full range of inspections.

Bidders will be required to submit proposals that factor in the location and suitability of all centralized inspection stations and must ensure that the average driving time will be no more than 15 minutes to any station for at least 90 percent of the registered motor vehicle owners from home or work location.

To ensure that there is an adequate service coverage area statewide, bidders will be asked to identify new sites where they believe new stations could be built to provide improved customer service throughout the inspection network.

The deadline for proposals from bidders is early to mid-April, with contract awards expected to be made approximately one month later.

The statewide enhanced I/M program, in which a tailpipe emissions test -- ASM 5015 -- will be administered to vehicles while they run at a steady speed on a dynamometer. The current emissions test measures tailpipe emissions while vehicles are idling.

The enhanced I/M program will be funded through existing registration and certain other fees earmarked for this purpose. In addition, the state is pursuing the use of federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) for funding capital and operating costs of the federally mandated program.

In March 1996, New Jersey proposed the enhanced inspection and maintenance program to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The enhanced I/M is designed to complement the flexibilities in the federal regulations which Governor Whitman has already negotiated with the EPA. In late 1994, the Governor was able to convince the EPA to allow New Jersey to continue to have licensed service stations perform emissions and safety inspections.

Under the federal Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, Congress required that New Jersey and other states increase the effectiveness of its motor vehicle inspection program as a way to improve air quality. New Jersey has the highest vehicle density of any state in the nation and one of the most severe ground-level ozone problems. Presently, New Jersey fails to meet federal health standards for ozone and must reduce the amount of pollutants, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, that when combined with heat and strong sunlight form smog. Motor vehicles are a large source of these pollutants, as well as carbon monoxide, a pollutant which results from incomplete fuel combustion.

The I/M program is just one of the strategies New Jersey is undertaking to clean its air. Others include a heavy-duty diesel truck inspection program, an electric station car project, the use of catalytic converters on state vehicles, high occupancy vehicle lanes (HOVs), various transportation management strategies to improve the flow of traffic, continued investment in public transit and tougher controls on industrial emissions.

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