The New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund that finances the cost of repairing the state’s transportation system will run out of money by 2016, a state official said Thursday.
“We must identify a reliable, dedicated revenue source for the Transportation Trust Fund,” New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner Jamie Fox said in testimony to the state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. “Our bridges and roads are old, crumbling and getting worse every day. We can no longer kick the can down the road.”
NJDOT has proposed a $4.9 billion program for transportation improvements in fiscal year 2016. But Fox referred to that budget plan as a short-term fix, noting those funds would pay for DOT operations for just one more year. The $4.9 billion program includes $1.6 billion in state funds, the same as last year, and $2.3 billion in federal funds, an $800 million increase, to support a $1.9 billion NJDOT capital program and a $2.1 billion NJ Transit program.
New Jersey needs more than $2 billion worth of work on roads today, Fox said, the greatest amount in the transportation department’s history.
The state has undertaken some its largest-ever construction projects in recent years, including the Pulaski Skyway rehabilitation and the Rt. 7 Wittpenn Bridge and Direct Connection in Camden County, Fox said. The Turnpike Authority also is in the process of completing the widening of the Garden State Parkway.
In addition, Fox said there were 577 structurally deficient bridges in the state. Of those, 289 are owned by NJDOT and the rest are county and local bridges.
After a harsh winter, NJDOT has filled more than 180,000 potholes so far this fiscal year. It expects to repair nearly 300,000 this year, almost twice the number the state fills in an average year.
The Transportation Trust Fund is funded from a variety of revenue sources, including the motor fuels tax, petroleum products gross receipts tax, and sales and use tax.