TRENTON, NJ – In the absence of an agreement on funding the state’s Transportation Trust Fund through a 23-cent gas tax increase, several local road projects funded by the state are likely to end tonight, officials said this week.
The Transportation Trust Fund, which holds the money for such projects, will run out of money next month unless an estimated $1 billion source is found, according to officials.
The Assembly passed a bill that would increase the gas tax by 23-cents per gallon and reduce the state sales tax from seven to six percent over 18 months.
Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, D-16, said on July 1 that he voted against the bill because he feels that the $1 billion could be found elsewhere in the budget instead of increasing another tax.
The Senate, however, adjourned without having a vote on the compromise bi-partisan bill.
Gov. Chris Christie then signed an executive order July 2 that stops any state funded, “non-essential” Department of Transportation and New Jersey Transit projects as of 11:59 p.m. tonight, according to officials.
Earlier this week, Acting Gov. Kim Guadagno published a list of the projects that would be put on hold as a result of the order, including several local items in the South Brunswick and Cranbury area.
Cranbury will see a delay in the third and fourth phases of its downtown beautification project, according to the list, as well as the planned resurfacing of John White Road in the township.
“As of right now we have no active projects in Cranbury that are underway which are impacted by Gov. Christie’s executive order,” Cranbury Mayor Dan Mulligan said. “If the stoppage continues, it will impact our start date for (the) John White Road paving project. My hope is the governor and the Legislature can find a solution that is fair and equitable for the taxpayers of New Jersey that will not increase taxes, while at the same time prioritizing much needed infrastructure work for our state’s roads and bridges. My belief is they can do this, however it will require (the state government) prioritize its spending within the many billions of dollars a year the state already collects from the taxpayers of New Jersey.”
South Brunswick would see a delay in the planned use of the Route 1 shoulders as a third lane in each direction through the 6.7 mile-long stretch during rush hours.
That plan has been in the works for several years as a stop-gap measure to ease the “bottleneck” of only four lanes operating on Route 1 in South Brunswick while six operate in North Brunswick to the north and Plainsboro to the south.
“It was supposed to start in September. It is extremely, extremely disappointing,” South Brunswick Mayor Frank Gambatese said Friday. “We have been working to relieve the pressure of the traffic on residents on Route 1 for years.”
The plan, Gambatese said, has been kicking around Trenton in recent years with several proposals being refined for the estimated $65,000 cost of the plan.
Now, however, that plan will likely be delayed and pushed back by however long the trust fund issue takes to resolve, he said.
“It’s a small amount of money we are talking about here,” Gambatese said. “To stop a project like this, is not only disappointing, but it’s discouraging. There has got to be some accountability for elected officials to take some responsibility to solve some of these problems.”
Although not directly inside the township, another project, the Route 518 Delaware and Raritan Canal Bridge in Franklin Township, will also be delayed and could have a major impact on residents traveling to Rocky Hill and Skillman.
Road construction crews closed that road on Wednesday to build a new bridge there.
“That road is going to be closed for, I don’t know for how long,” he said.
Gambatese said that he has never, in his 80 years, seen such a lack of leadership at the state level.
“The only losers are the people and that’s a shame,” he said. Did you like this story?
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