Mayors seek assurances on N.J. transportation funding

Mayors meet with New Jersey legislative leaders Wednesday in Trenton. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Mayors meet with New Jersey legislative leaders Wednesday in Trenton. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Mayors who held their annual meeting with legislative leaders at the New Jersey Statehouse Wednesday want to know how the state will distribute funding for transportation projects.

A case-by-case process is not the way to determine if the state will reimburse a municipality for costs resulting from Gov. Chris Christie’s shutdown of road projects during last year’s impasse on replenishing the Transportation Trust Fund, said Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr.

“There should be some sort of very clear message, path, process that’s put in place because it affected so many local communities and counties as well,” she said. “You know the counties and the towns really make up a majority of taking care of the roads in the state of New Jersey.”

Hardwick Mayor James Perry said local officials are also wondering how the state will decide which projects to approve in future years.

“I understand there’s going to be a panel of four people that decide billions of dollars and where it’s going. It’s going to be the head of the DOT plus other people,” Perry said. “How do those three people get picked? That’s a lot of power for three people to have. I think there should be a better process.”

The trust fund provides $16 billion over eight years, but the state Department of Transportation can only put out $600 million annually in work, according to Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester.  He said he’s working on legislation that would allow public-private partnerships and let towns and counties take the lead so more projects get underway.

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