TRENTON – At a press conference in the Statehouse today, ForwardNJ – a recently announced advocacy coalition for New Jersey’s transportation infrastructure — announced its members and mission, taking aim at the state’s depleted Transportation Trust Fund and calling on lawmakers to come up with solutions for financing it.
“Put quite simply, New Jersey’s transportation system has run out of gas,” Chair of ForwardNJ, President and CEO of the NJ Chamber of Commerce, Tom Bracken said in a statement released shortly after the presser. “We must replenish the fund to protect the safety of our families and the health of our economy. There is no greater priority for the business community right now than replenishing the trust fund in a smart, robust, sustainable way. In addition, we believe the revenue should be constitutionally dedicated to prevent any potential diversion of funds down the road from these critically important transportation projects.”
ForwardNJ is made up of more than 25 state-based organizations, Bracken said, and recently issued a report, written by Allison Black, a national economist for Association of Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) based in Washington, D.C on behalf of the coalition. Black spoke at today’s press conference, calling road and bridge conditions in New Jersey “some of the worst in the country.”
Lawmakers in the Statehouse have also taken up finding funding for the state’s TTF in recent weeks, with Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto (D-32) and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) spearheading efforts to find new revenue to replenish the fund. Sweeney has spent the last few weeks campaigning around the state on a TTF tour, and Prieto recently announced two hearings to discuss the issue, one of which will take place next week at Montclair State University.
Today, Prieto welcomed the coalition’s efforts.
“Forward NJ’s report is an important addition to the discussion about what must be done to ensure New Jersey has a reliable transportation infrastructure able to create jobs and economic development,” Prieto said. “When I first began talking about this problem earlier this year, I was hoping for a thoughtful and academic discussion focused only on facts, with the key fact being the impending insolvency of New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund. I also welcomed input from everyone.”
A full list of ForwardNJ members include:
American Council of Engineering Companies of NJ
Associated Construction Contractors of NJ
Director Emeritus, Rutgers University Voorhees Transportation Center Dr. Martin Robins
Former NJDOT Commissioner Steve Dilts
Former NJDOT Commissioner Jamie Fox
Former NJDOT Commissioner Hazel Gluck
Former NJDOT Commissioner Jack Lettiere
Laborers International Union of North America
Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce
Newark Regional Business Partnership
New Jersey Concrete & Aggregate Association
NJ Asphalt Pavement Association
NJ Association of Counties
NJ Builders Association
NJ State Building & Construction Trades Council
NJ State Chamber of Commerce
NJ State League of Municipalities
NY Shipping Association, Inc.
Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce
Southern New Jersey Development Council
Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of NJ PlanSmart NJ
Tri-State Transportation Campaign
Utility and Transportation Contractors Association of NJ