- June 26, 2013
- New Jersey Policy Perspective
- Gordon MacInnes
Fixing New Jersey’s crumbling roads and bridges is vital to energizing the state’s lagging recovery from the Great Recession. Without a sound transportation system that allows businesses to cheaply and efficiently move their goods to market and eases the commute of working men and women, New Jersey’s economy will continue to trail its neighbors. Rather than contemplating a massive new tax cut, state policymakers should invest in this key to our state’s future.
We have a lot of ground to make up: The average commute in New Jersey is 20 percent longer than the national average. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives New Jersey a “D” for the quality of its roads and bridges. It estimates that the 66 percent of roads in “poor or mediocre” condition cost the average driver $601 in added repairs annually. Thirty-six percent of the state’s 6,554 bridges were categorized as “structurally deficient” (651 bridges, or 10 percent) or “functionally obsolete” (1,717 bridges, or 26 percent). And while New Jersey remains a vital connection for truck traffic between Washington and Boston, our interstate highways and local roads are straining under the load.
If New Jersey is to rebound from the ravages of the Great Recession, it must exploit its enormous advantages: its proximity to New York and Philadelphia; scores of pleasant and vibrant communities with convenient transit to the cities and excellent public schools; two globally recognized research universities; and a workforce with a higher proportion of scientists, engineers and researchers than any other state. Instead of advertising these powerful attractions, the state has in recent years cancelled a new rail tunnel to New York; attacked the quality of its own public schools; underfunded its colleges and universities; and failed to protect and maintain its investments in roads, bridges and public transit.