N.J. Turnpike looking at a $55 million hole in 2011

Weather events, economy slows funding

Funding News New Jersey Star Ledger September 29, 2011
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Hurricane Irene is still creating a panic on the East Coast.

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority announced on Sept. 29 that it is anticipating a $55 million decline in revenue in 2011.

The recent string of bad weather has only dampened officials’ spirits even more. It is estimated that Hurricane Irene cost the NJTA $7.3 million--$4.3 million in lost toll revenue and another $3 million in overtime and emergency-response costs. There is no word whether the Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse the NJTA. Unemployment and the steady increase in gas prices also have led to the financial downfall.

“We are concerned about it,” said Ronnie Hakim, executive director of the NJTA.
Traffic was down 4.8% in August, when Irene hit, compared to a year ago, and total revenue was down 5.2%. For the year, traffic is down 1.3% on the Turnpike.

“We’re going to have to have to really take another hard look at our expense side of the ledger and see what kind of expenses that we can control, and find better ways to do things and reduce overhead to make up for the loss,” said New Jersey Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson. “We do have a cushion, but we don’t want to dig into that cushion.”

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