TRANSIT: N.J. light-rail funding cap draws bipartisan ire

Sept. 24, 2015

Legislators look to repeal provision in state law that bars DOT from pitching in more than $500,000 per project

A new provision in New Jersey state law prohibits the state’s department of transportation (DOT) from contributing more than $500,000 to any light-rail project. However, the measure is now drawing fire from both sides of the aisle and these legislators have the provision in their collective crosshairs.

The limit was a late addition to the state budget law. It voids the DOT’s promise to provide $138 million to the planned $1.5 billion Durham-Orange light-rail line project. Among the critics of the provision is Governor Pat McCrory, who stated his position that the provision unnecessarily hampers the  2013 Strategic Transportation Investments law, which was designed to remove politics from decisions about where to spend transportation money—a situation the governor believes is precisely what is happening in light of the budgetary provision.

Among the provisions opponents are Rep. Bill Brawley (R- Mecklenburg County), Rep. Paul Luebke (D-Durham) and Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake County), whose prior position was that the state should not spend any dollars on light rail.