Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) and Assembly Transportation Chairman John Wisniewski (D-19) on Friday announced upcoming Assembly hearings on New Jersey’s dwindling Transportation Trust Fund and what can be done to ensure the state has safe and secure infrastructure.
The first special Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee hearing on the subject is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24 at Montclair State University. It will be in the conference center on the 7th floor of University Hall.
The second hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 14 at Rutgers University. It will be held at the Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation in Piscataway.
Additional hearings will be announced in the coming weeks.
“New Jersey needs a modern and safe transportation network for its economic survival, but years of foolish borrowing leave our state teetering on the brink of a transportation disaster,” said Prieto, who announced the hearings on the depleted Transportation Trust Fund in August. “We’ve all had enough of this reckless borrowing that has left our transportation fund running on fumes and put state and local budgets in dire shape. No solution to this is easy, but the Assembly is not going to sit back and watch our roads and bridges – and our economy and ability to create jobs – fall to pieces.”
The American Society of Civil Engineers notes two-thirds of New Jersey’s roads are in poor or mediocre quality, with 36 percent of the bridges deficient or obsolete. It also estimates that New Jersey drivers pay $601 per year in added car repair costs, which Prieto and Wisniewski noted is a hidden tax that hits middle-class and lower-income drivers hardest.
“New Jersey is hastily nearing the point where it will spend more money on transportation debt annually than it will spend on actual projects,” said Wisniewski, who for years has called for a viable transportation funding solution. “New Jersey will either have to suspend much-needed projects or borrow beyond capacity to pay the mounting debt. Neither is acceptable. If the Transportation Trust Fund and New Jersey is to remain viable, we’re going to need a serious discussion. This is the start of that discussion.”