New Jersey’s infrastructure has faced decades of underinvestment. Unfortunately, just as we’re finally beginning to make progress on paving our roads, fixing our bridges, and filling potholes around the state, the COVID-19 pandemic threatens the state’s economy and risks plunging us back into uncertainty.

That’s why it’s critically important for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) to move forward with its $24 billion capital plan. We urge Governor Murphy’s administration to stay the course and support this plan. Robust and expeditious infrastructure investment will give the state a solid footing to recover economically from the pandemic and provide sorely-needed jobs to hardworking New Jerseyans. Even better, it will improve and expand our critical infrastructure for years to come.

The same goes for the SJTA’s capital plan to improve the Atlantic City Expressway. These crucial funds will overhaul aging infrastructure while creating jobs and boosting our economy in a time of great need.

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While the Transportation Trust Fund investments from 2016 have helped improve many roads and bridges across the state, those funds legally cannot be used on the Turnpike, Garden State Parkway, or Atlantic City Expressway. That means that these roads have continued to deteriorate.

New Jersey faces a dire future if we don’t move forward immediately with capital projects for our most important highways like these. Growing road congestion, poor pavement quality, aging bridges and significant safety concerns will threaten the health, safety and quality of life of our residents.

Our membership employs more than 7,500 people in good-paying jobs across New Jersey. We see firsthand that infrastructure improvements of all kinds – including badly-needed repairs to our roads – create jobs, catalyze economic growth, and significantly improve safety. In the long term, it is far more cost-effective to invest in these improvements now. The hidden costs of deferred maintenance and delayed projects are immense, and they will threaten our state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unfortunately, special interests in Trenton want to delay the capital plan and set New Jersey’s infrastructure back for decades. That would be a bad move for our infrastructure and an even worse one for our economy; study after study shows that infrastructure investments generate three dollars in our economy for every dollar spent. Now is not the time for shameful political games. Our roads – and our residents – need help immediately.

It’s been over 12 long years since the NJTA unveiled a new investment plan. The Murphy administration has done an admirable job beginning to address the backlog of infrastructure projects in our state, but there is more to be done. It now has an opportunity to put New Jersey on the best possible footing as we control the pandemic and safely get our residents back to work; it can start by approving the NJTA’s capital plan.

Now is the time to move forward with confidence and put our residents to work making New Jersey a better place to live and work. The benefit is well worth the cost. We urge the NJTA and SJTA to move forward with their capital plans and set the foundation for the state’s recovery.