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May 20, 2014

Re: Take Action for Transportation

Dear Mayor:

What happens over the next twelve months in Washington and Trenton will determine the viability of transportation funding for New Jersey municipalities.

On May 1, New Jersey DOT Commissioner Jim Simpson announced that the State’s Transportation Trust Fund is just 14 months away from a $620 million deficit. Earlier this year, New Jersey Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff told lawmakers to expect the Administration’s plan to address the shortfall early next year.

The State Department of Transportation (DOT) reports that New Jersey's municipalities are responsible for 64 percent (28,539 center line road miles) of our roads. County governments are responsible for another 22 percent (6,649 center line road miles). Together, local governments are responsible for 39 percent of our bridges. Local roadways and bridges carry about 55 percent of all traffic.

Just last year, the American Society of Civil Engineers reported that 651 of the 6,554 bridges in New Jersey (9.9%) are considered structurally deficient and 1,717 (26.2%) are considered functionally obsolete. That report also estimated that driving on roads in need of repair costs New Jersey motorists $3.476 billion a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs – $601 per motorist, and that 66% of New Jersey’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition.

Local officials know that investments in these assets must be made. Failure to do so can compromise the safety of the public, the economic vitality of our communities and the security of our neighborhoods.

We have reached out to the Administration asking to be consulted in the policy development process.

Meanwhile, in Washington, the current federal surface transportation program, MAP-21, will expire on September 30, 2014. Before then, the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which funds the roads and bridges we use every day, is expected to reach a shortfall this summer.

As Congress debates how to best address these issues, municipalities must be a part of the debate. Without a strong voice from local government, we risk gridlock or a transportation bill that neglects the important role local governments play in creating a strong national transportation network.

The National League of Cities (NLC), our voice in Washington, is calling on Congress to pass a new surface transportation program that adequately funds our nation's transportation needs, takes a smart approach to all forms of transportation, includes a strong role for local governments in the project selection process, and provides local governments with the certainty they need for planning and funding transportation projects.

New Jersey local officials need to remind State and Federal policymakers of the practical and economic value that transportation has in your community, and why a strong transportation program is so important. NLC has developed a number of ideas and resources that can be adapted to help you to show the impact of transportation on the economic development and wellbeing of your municipality. These (most of which can be easily adapted for contacting your State Legislators concerning the Transportation Trust Fund) include:

Here are background materials for your reference:

Please let us know about your follow-up on this and if you have any question, contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121 or jmoran@njslom.com

Thank you for your consideration.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

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