Still no agreement on replenishing New Jersey’s dwindling fund for road repairs, transit projects

 Two New Jersey legislators want a law mandating jail time for motorists who repeatedly drive with a suspended license. (AP file photo)

Two New Jersey legislators want a law mandating jail time for motorists who repeatedly drive with a suspended license. (AP file photo)

New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund is nearing the bottom of the barrel, leaving little to cover costs of needed road repairs and mass transit.

Motorists and municipalities are urging New Jersey lawmakers to commit more money to transportation projects.

West Caldwell Mayor Joe Tempesta, president of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, said  replenishing the trust fund is vital to towns because it provides money for road repairs.

“If we lose that aid, those are roads that we have to do. That’s going to directly affect the property taxpayer. We’re going to have to fund that,” he said. “In a lot of cases, that’s the difference between a municipal tax increase and no increase or a little increase.”

Senate Budget Committee chairman Paul Sarlo agreed that towns can’t fund road repairs on their own.

“The Transportation Trust Fund renewal will include an increase — not the status quo for municipalities — because many municipalities have stopped investing in their infrastructure and that’s a no-no,” said Sarlo, D-Bergen.

New Jersey residents are paying the consequences because the gas tax hasn’t increased in 28 years, said Janna Chernetz of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

“They’re paying by lost time spent in traffic. That’s less time with families, less time in doing things that you enjoy,” she said. “They spend money on longer commutes. They spend money in car repairs, an average of $2,000 more a year in car repairs due to the poor condition of our roadways.”

Gov. Chris Christie has insisted that it’s up to lawmakers to come up with a plan to replenish the transportation fund.

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