Delays in NJ transportation project funding may trigger further tie-ups down the road

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New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund is running out of money, and an agreement to replenish is stalled on a bumpy road.

 

Negotiations on how to restock the fund that finances road and bridge repairs have not completely broken down, said Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto.

“I don’t want to say they’ve died. They’ve maybe cooled down a bit. So maybe we can still get this accomplished,” said Prieto, D-Hudson. “Let’s see what happens between now and our budget cycle.”

The funding delay will cause further delays, said Martin Robins, director emeritus of the Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers.

“What is likely to happen is the pipeline of projects getting ready for construction and even in the planning stages is going to dry up,” he said. “You end up with people and procedures not being ready to take advantage of the money when it does come.”

Prieto has not shied away from calling for an increase in the state gas tax, but Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, said elections in November are making some lawmakers reluctant to follow suit.

“I think there probably are legislators who are afraid to vote for any type of increase whatsoever on taxes,” he said. “If that’s true, then I suspect you might see more action in the fall than you do in the summer.”

If lawmakers do decide to raise the gas tax, Bramnick said his GOP colleagues “would like to see some other taxes reduced.”

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