N.J. Lawmakers OK $400M Funding for Road, Bridge Work

📅   Wed April 05, 2017 - Northeast Edition #7


NJ Transit said its accidents last year caused $6.7 million in damage to equipment and tracks, including $6 million in damage from the crash last September in which a rush-hour train slammed into Hoboken Terminal at twice the 10-mph speed limit, killing a woman and injuring more than 100 other people.
NJ Transit said its accidents last year caused $6.7 million in damage to equipment and tracks, including $6 million in damage from the crash last September in which a rush-hour train slammed into Hoboken Terminal at twice the 10-mph speed limit, killing a woman and injuring more than 100 other people.

State lawmakers have approved spending an extra $400 million for transportation projects.

The Democrat-led Assembly passed the supplemental appropriation on March 22. Republican Gov. Chris Christie had requested the extra spending last month in his annual budget address.

Christie called for funding to pay for road and bridge work in the state's 21 counties. But the legislation going to his desk allocates $260 million for roads and bridges and $140 million for New Jersey Transit.

Lawmakers are hailing the legislation as an effort to boost the state's economy.

“We're going to see wide-ranging job and economic benefits for years to come from our new infrastructure improvement plan,” Democratic Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto said.

Lawmakers said that the Department of Transportation will specify which projects are paid for and that the money would be spent within 100 days of enactment, if signed by the governor.

Christie's office has said the legislation is under review.

Lawmakers said the NJ Transit money is aimed specifically at technology improvements and safety on the system, which is the nation's second-largest commuter railroad.

NJ Transit trains were involved in 21 accidents last year, according to federal safety data. That's the agency's lowest yearly total since 2000, but it's still highest among the nation's commuter railroads. The Long Island Rail Road, which carried about 10 million more passengers, reported just 10 accidents last year.

NJ Transit said its accidents last year caused $6.7 million in damage to equipment and tracks, including $6 million in damage from the crash last September in which a rush-hour train slammed into Hoboken Terminal at twice the 10-mph speed limit, killing a woman and injuring more than 100 other people.

The money would come from the state's transportation trust fund, not the state's general fund.

Christie and lawmakers last year agreed to increase the gas tax 23 cents a gallon as part of a bigger transportation deal. That agreement cut the state sales tax and phased out the estate tax while boosting a credit for low-income earners.

If enacted, the legislation would boost the state's current fiscal year transportation trust fund from $1.6 billion to $2 billion. That's the level Christie and lawmakers set for the fund for the next eight years in the 2016 deal.