Transportation Trust Fund Headed for Some Major Revisions
On the recently passed gas tax and Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) Democratic lawmakers in the Statehouse are considering major changes to New Jersey's infrastructure spending program but are being met with resistance from their Republican colleagues.
The complex, 21-page bill S-3075 would enact broad amendments to the law passed last year authorizing the state's Transportation Trust Fund to spend $2 billion per year on road, bridge and transit projects.
The new measure, sponsored by Senate President Stephen Sweeney, would strip a key transparency requirement, delay the creation of a panel to review the proposals and create a new system by which counties and towns could take over stalled projects. It would also allow the state to "bundle" several related projects, potentially speeding up environmental reviews and engineering work.
Introduced a week ago, the bill was quickly ushered through committee and was scheduled for a vote in the state Senate Monday, but never went on the board. Sweeney said he did not have enough support to call a vote without first sending the bill though a second reading. Such a predicament suggests fairly significant Republican opposition.
It will be up at the next voting session.
The bill would enact a change Sweeney had discussed in February - when he said he was in talks with Gov. Chris Christie - that would empower counties to take on more transportation projects, lifting some burden from the state. This final proposal would let counties take over projects on their roads or bridges if the state fails to get the job done within three years.
Meanwhile, the bill removes in its entirety a requirement that all Transportation Trust Fund projects be listed on a state website, along with current status and cost figures for the work that are updated monthly. The website is also required to include a chart comparing planning and actual work for each project, and chronicle major actions related to each project, like regulatory approvals.