TRENTON — Legislation sponsored by Senators Bob Gordon and Donald Norcross that would establish a State Transportation Infrastructure Bank to leverage public and private investments for the long-term overhaul of the state’s aging transportation network cleared the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today.
“New Jersey’s infrastructure, from our bridges and rails to power lines and water systems, are outdated and in desperate need of modernization. We cannot compete in a competitive global market unless we invest in our infrastructure,” said Gordon (D-Bergen, Passaic). “This bill will help attract federal and private dollars to do this important work while creating jobs and boosting the economy. Doing nothing about our infrastructure problems is not an option.”
“Our transportation network is the life blood of the state’s economy, but unfortunately it has been poorly neglected by a lack of proper financing and planning. This bill reverses that trend by leveraging public and private dollars to infuse much needed capital into vital infrastructure projects. The investment will create jobs and better position the state to compete in the 21st century economy,” said Norcross (D-Camden, Gloucester).
The bill, S-307, would establish a special non-lapsing, revolving fund within the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust to be known as the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank (STIB) program in order to leverage private investments with state and federal funds to infuse capital into much-needed infrastructure projects.
The bill would also create a separate fund known as the Clean Energy and Infrastructure Modernization Fund, which would provide loans and grants to public or private entities for projects that relocate power lines underground, or acquire, repair, or reconstruct renewable energy producing structures, facilities or equipment.
The Transportation Infrastructure Bank program would:
- Extend targeted loans and other financial assistance to public or private entities for the planning, acquisition, engineering, construction, reconstruction, repair and rehabilitation of a transportation project or for any other purpose permitted under the enabling federal program;
- Issue bonds in maturities of up to 30 years for all types of projects and create an interim financing program for transportation projects;
- Collaborate with the Department of Transportation DOT on the evaluation of potential transportation projects, fulfilling federal regulations regarding capital projects, coordinating with metropolitan planning organizations, ensuring that any projects obtaining assistance are consistent with the statewide capital investment strategy, and advancing local, regional, and statewide transportation objectives; and
- Be administered by the trust with assistance from the DOT, which would be responsible for establishing the list of projects that the trust would finance and the priority in which they would be funded. The Legislature would have until June 15th of every year to reject the transportation financial plan put forth by the DOT.
Establishment of the STIB is required by federal law as a depository for federal transportation infrastructure bank monies. The bill would also establish an account within the fund that only receives state funds, so that grants can be issued for pedestrian infrastructure projects and other projects that may not qualify for federal funding.
The measure passed the committee by a 10-0-1 vote.