TRENTON – Citing the crisis facing New Jersey’s transportation system, Senate President Steve Sweeney today said New Jersey needs a comprehensive planning effort to develop a consensus set of priorities for the expansion and repair of New Jersey’s transportation system over the next 10 to 20 years.
“Yesterday, the transportation commissioner announced that an important local highway bridge in Dover in MorrisCounty had to be closed because it was unsafe,” Sweeney said. “We know that fixing our transportation system is vital for our economic future, job creation and the quality of life of our residents.”
“Yet New Jersey has no master plan for transportation, and no plan for how to construct a new rail tunnel to replace the cancelled ARC Tunnel,” Sweeney said. “We have no plan to avert the economic catastrophe that would ensue if – and when – the two existing 104-year-old rail tunnels need to be closed for Sandy-related repairs before a new tunnel can be built.”
“Our transportation priorities are mixed up,” Sweeney said. “We have a Port Authority plan that recommends spending $1.5 billion to give wealthy Wall Streeters a one-seat ride to NewarkAirport, but no funding plan to replace a dilapidated Port Authority Bus Terminal that serves 240,000 people a day. We need to get our transportation priorities straight.”
Sweeney said he has asked former Transportation Commissioner Kris Kolluri and Martin Robins, director emeritus of RutgersUniversity’s AlanM.VoorheesTransportationPolicyCenter, to advise him on our state’s transportation needs.
“Our transportation system is broken, and we need to make an honest assessment of what our transportation priorities should be, from expanding light rail to fixing highways to ensuring that we have the port and airport infrastructure we need,” Sweeney said. “A world-class infrastructure creates a world-class economy and high-paying jobs.”
“Kris Kolluri was serving as transportation commissioner when the bridge in Minnesota collapsed, and knows the crisis New Jersey and other states face,” Sweeney said. “And Martin Robins played a lead role in everything from the creation of NJ Transit to the Midtown Direct rail service to Manhattan and the Bergen-Hudson Light Rail.”
Kolluri and Robins said they were honored to be asked by the Senate president to assist in this effort.
“As a former transportation commissioner, I know how important it is to fully explore the scope and depth of the state’s transportation capital needs, and how to coordinate the efforts of various federal, state and regional agencies in meeting those needs,” Kolluri said.
“The state needs to take a comprehensive look at its short- and long-term priorities in an effort to create a world-class transportation system that will power New Jersey’s economy for decades to come,” Robins said. “I am eager to work with Senate President Sweeney on this effort.”
Sweeney said expanding and rebuilding the state’s transportation infrastructure is a quality of life issue for all New Jerseyans.
“Less time spent sitting in traffic – or waiting for your bus to get into the Port Authority Bus Terminal – or waiting between train stations for a transfer because one-seat service won’t be available to you until a new rail tunnel is built – will mean more parents will get to eat dinner with their families, read to their children, and tuck them into bed,” Sweeney said.
“Where would we all be if our parents and grandparents didn’t build the George Washington and Ben Franklin Bridges, the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, or if our great-grandparents didn’t have the foresight to build the rail tunnels that carry NJ Transit trains into New York?” he asked.