New Jersey may cut local road funding

News New Jersey Star-Ledger February 24, 2005
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The New Jersey Department of Transportation is considering wiping out $120 million in earmarked funds for improvements to local

The New Jersey Department of Transportation is considering wiping out $120 million in earmarked funds for improvements to local roads and bridges, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger. By eliminating those grants, New Jersey also would lose $120 million in federal matching funds.


Budget problems are leaving state officials with nowhere else to turn. NJDOT's preliminary $2.6 billion budget included $270 million for local projects. About $30 million is protected by law, but the $120 million currently on the chopping block is not.


New Jersey is trying to keep major road and bridge projects moving, even with the lingering threat of the transportation trust fund running out of money. Starting in July 2006, the trust fund will need all of its existing revenue to pay off its debt. In order to sustain the program, officials would have to raise the gas tax.


"No one wants to see any cuts at this point," Dan Emmer, spokesman for the New Jersey Association of Counties, told the Star-Ledger. "These funds are important to maintaining local roads in New Jersey."


NJDOT spokesman Marc La Vorgna stressed that the agency had yet to make a decision regarding the cuts, but also alerted lawmakers that federal and state funding for major projects remains in doubt for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts July 1.


"We're going to have to plan some contingencies for how to get through the lack of funding," he told the Star-Ledger.


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