New Jersey Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox has ordered a safety inspection of the nearly 600 bridges in the state that have been deemed structurally deficient.
Fox has also told municipal leaders that, due to a depleted Transportation Trust Fund, the state may not be able to afford $200 million for road and bridge repairs this year.
Towns are depending on that state assistance, said Hope Township Mayor Tim McDonough, chairman of the New Jersey League of Municipalities’ Transportation Trust Fund Committee.
“Either you don’t get your roads fixed and bridges fixed or it has to come out the coffers of the municipalities, out of the pockets of the residents, so taxes are going to go up,” McDonough said Wednesday. “Those are the alternatives.”
Without state funds for repairs, McDonough said, local roads and bridges will deteriorate.
“If people cannot get out to go to the stores and what have you and start hitting potholes and banging cars up, it’s going to be an economic issue as well,” he said.
That, he said, will increase pressure on the lawmakers and the governor’s office to come up with a plan to replenish the dwindling Transportation Trust Fund.
One proposal calls for an increase on the gas tax, one of the lowest in the nation, but polls show most New Jersey residents oppose that.