TRENTON – A Transportation for America report released today shows that New Jersey ranks 26th nationally in terms of the overall condition of the state’s bridges, with one being the worst, 51 being the best. The report, “The Fix We’re in For 2013,” finds that drivers in New Jersey are regularly traveling across heavily trafficked bridges rated structurally deficient – bridges that could become dangerous or closed without repair.
Advocates from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign responded to the report by calling for New Jersey to increase investment in road and bridge maintenance and repair.
Today, one out of every 10 bridges that motorists in New Jersey cross each day are likely to be deteriorating to some degree; 9.9 percent of bridges statewide are rated “structurally deficient,” according to government standards, compared to 11 percent nationwide, the report found.
“The safest and most economically viable approach we can take to New Jersey’s infrastructure is to protect the investments we’ve made with needed safety and structural upgrades,” said Janna Chernetz, New Jersey Advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “Allowing roads and bridges to slip into disrepair ultimately costs state and local governments billions more than the cost of regular, timely repair. Deferring maintenance of bridges and highways can cost three times as much as preventative repairs.”
New Jersey’s bridge conditions slightly improved since the 2011 report, with the number of deficient bridges falling by 31, from 682 to 651 (out of 6,557 total bridges). Age is a major factor in bridge conditions. While most bridges are designed to last 50 years before major overhaul or replacement, the average age of New Jersey’s bridges is 52, and the average age of the state’s structurally deficient bridges is 79, the report said.
“A prime example of what happens when existing bridge infrastructure is neglected is the Pulaski Skyway,” Chernetz said. “In order to complete the necessary repairs in an expedited fashion, the NJDOT is planning to close the Skyway in one direction for 2 years, raising major concerns from local leaders, business owners and residents about the impacts of the closing on the regional economy and the area’s quality of life.”
“Preserving New Jersey’s existing transportation system is crucial to ensuring regional prosperity, safety and a higher quality of life,” said James Corless, director of Transportation for America, in a statement. “The economic and social cost of neglect is simply too high. It is time for our policymakers to shore up our infrastructure and ensure Americans get the most bang for our transportation buck.”