Details Murky in Gov. Christie’s TTF Plan

After several months of delay, yesterday Governor Christie unveiled a funding proposal for New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund, the state’s pot of money for transportation infrastructure.  The TTF will run dry in July 2011 as 100 percent of its revenue will be tied up in the state’s debt payments resulting from years of unsustainable borrowing.  Without increasing or creating new taxes, the plan anticipates an increase of $600 million from the general fund to help pay for and maintain New Jersey’s roads, bridges, transit, and freight projects.

In response, Tri-State Transportation Campaign issued the following statement:

Today Governor Christie released his plan to replenish the state’s Transportation Trust Fund, New Jersey’s main source of funding for road, bridge, transit, and freight projects. Replenishing the fund is vital to New Jersey’s environmental health and economic vitality.

The specific details of the plan are murky. It is difficult to understand where the Governor will find $600 million from the general fund when the state deficit is so large. Absent new revenue, any money flowing into the Transportation Trust Funnd will take away from other vital state programs.

It is clear that the Christie plan relies heavily on the use of ARC funds, including $1.8 billion from the Port Authority and additional funds from the NJ Turnpike Authority.  TSTC has called on Governor Christie and Governor Cuomo to redirect the $3 billion in Port Authority of New York and New Jersey previously designated for the ARC tunnel to projects that address the same problem: delays and congestion crossing the Hudson River. Instead, Governor Christie’s plan largely calls for that money to be spent on port roadway projects.

The increase in transit funding to $672 million a year is good news, but provides little solace to riders who last year saw a 22% fare increase, service cuts and the loss of ARC, one of the best transit projects of a generation.

The transportation funding crisis in the state is very real. We hope the State Legislature and the Governor will have the leadership skills to find a long term solution that does not rely on financial gimmicks and saddle the next generation with more debt.

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