New Jersey residents want road and bridge repairs, but not a gas tax hike

 In this Sept. 2, 2011 photo, a front loader passes a sink hole in a Millburn, N.J. intersection. (Chris Hawley/AP Photo)

In this Sept. 2, 2011 photo, a front loader passes a sink hole in a Millburn, N.J. intersection. (Chris Hawley/AP Photo)

As Gov. Chris Christie and legislative leaders try to determine how to replenish New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund for road and bridge improvements, one idea that keeps cropping up is a gas tax increase.

But a new Fairleigh Dickinson PubicMind polls finds that residents are not enamored of that solution.

Even though gasoline prices are the lowest in years, and New Jersey has one of the lowest gas taxes in the nation, Garden State residents overwhelming told pollsters they oppose increasing the tax.

Only 28 percent the residents surveyed support the idea while 68 percent are against it, said Krista Jenkins, poll director.

“When we asked those who are opposed why they’re unwilling to pay more, we find that most say they either don’t believe the money will go to the intended purpose or they feel they’re already overtaxed and don’t want to see more of their money go to state government,” Jenkins said.

Though residents see the need for road repairs, they want policymakers to find the money for it somewhere else.

About 10 percent of the state’s bridges were deemed structurally deficient in the 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, while driving on roads in need of repair costs New Jersey motorists $3.5 million a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs – about $600 per driver.

If lawmakers decide to raise the gas tax, Jenkins said, elected officials risk alienating a majority of New Jersey voters.

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