Under Governor Christie, the Transportation Trust Fund, which pays for repairs to roads, bridges and mass transit is about to go bankrupt.
- The governor campaigned on ending the borrowing for projects, yet he has borrowed so much the state will actually run out of money to borrow a year earlier than expected.
- Our gas tax money is supposed to go into the Transportation Trust Fund to pay for roads and bridges, but not one penny of what we pay in gas taxes actually goes to build or fix anything – it all goes to paying debt.
- The governor also cancelled the needed ARC Tunnel to use the money for a one-time fix, cancelling the creation of 6,000 construction and 44,000 permanent jobs.
- Christie’s budget cuts to New Jersey Transit have led to fare increases.
- New Jersey’s transportation network is vital to our economy. It allows goods to flow from our ports and airports. It allows people to get to their jobs.
- Across the state, 2,368 bridges are considered structurally “deficient” or “obsolete,” and two-thirds of our roads are in “poor or mediocre condition.”
- Building bridges and roads is not just important for those who travel on them. Infrastructure projects also create good jobs, which we need right now.
New Jersey’s transportation system is an economic key to our state. Billions of dollars’ worth of goods travel across our state every year, and millions of New Jerseyans rely on our roads, bridges and mass transit network to get to work and live their lives. Unless we invest in our transportation infrastructure, our economic future is in trouble.
In 1984, under Gov. Thomas Kean, the Legislature created the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) to provide a stable source of money for critical road, bridge, mass transit and other infrastructure projects. The fund was intended to be financed through a combination of dedicated tax revenue and bonds. However, over time, governor and legislatures diverted gas tax money from the Trust Fund to fill holes in the state budget, leading to a greater and greater reliance on borrowing. Today, every penny of gas tax revenue goes to just paying off past borrowing, and the state has borrowed even more to pay for road and bridge improvements.
By 2016, the Trust Fund will be unable to borrow any more, while still leaving billions of dollars in debt to be paid. Without a long-term solution, we cannot build or repair our transportation network. In a state with an increasingly aging transportation system, with the nation’s 3rd largest mass transit rail and 4th largest bus systems, where one-third of all our bridges are considered either “structurally deficient” or “obsolete,” and two-thirds of our roads are in need of repair, that’s a big problem.
Governor Christie campaigned for office saying he would end the years of borrowing and return the Transportation Trust Fund to the “pay as you go” system it was founded on. However, the TTF is now almost exclusively run on borrowed money. From 2012 until 2016, the TTF planned to finance $8 billion in infrastructure construction projects. In order to get the money, the governor cancelled construction of the Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) tunnel under the Hudson River -- a much-needed expansion of our rail network that would have created 6,000 construction jobs and 44,000 permanent jobs – and taking the $3.1 billion for the TTF. Another $500 million would come from tax revenues, and the remaining $4.4 billion would be borrowed.
However, as the governor found trouble balancing his budgets, money meant to stabilize the TTF was redirected elsewhere, and replaced by more borrowing. Now, the TTF is on pace for running out of borrowed money by 2015 – a year ahead of schedule.
In addition, the governor has cut funding for NJ Transit. As a result, commuters are paying up to 25 percent more in fares just to make up the difference.
Unless a new source of funding is identified, the state will be unable to put any transportation projects into gear starting in 2016 – meaning no new construction jobs, no new roads and bridges, and higher tolls and fees for commuters.
- American Society of Civil Engineers, 2013 New Jersey Infrastructure Report Card
- NJ Spotlight, Explainer: Coming up to speed on the Transportation Trust Fund
- NJ Spotlight, Christies Borrowing Binge Makes Transportation Trust Fund Run Dry
- New Jersey Policy Perspective, Taking Bold Action on Transportation Will Give New Jersey’s Economy a Firm Foundation for the Future
- Star-Ledger, NJ Transit approves largest fare hike in agency history