TRENTON – An Assembly panel advanced legislation today that would establish a State Transportation Infrastructure Bank to leverage public and private investments for the long-term overhaul of New Jersey’s transportation network.
“We can’t ignore the underlying value that our infrastructure system holds for our economy,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), a sponsor of the bill. “For too long, we have neglected this foundation of our economy while our competitors in the global marketplace have invested in state-of-the-art water, energy and transportation systems. New Jersey’s recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy will be inherently linked to whether or not we create a more reliable and sustainable infrastructure system with better roads, bridges, tunnels and rail systems.”
The proposed legislation (A-3177) would establish a special non-lapsing, revolving fund within the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust to be known as the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank (STIB) program in order to couple private investments with state and federal funds to infuse capital into much-needed infrastructure projects.
The bill would also create a separate fund known as the Clean Energy and Infrastructure Modernization Fund, which would provide loans and grants to public or private entities for projects that relocate power lines underground, or acquire, repair, or reconstruct renewable energy producing structures, facilities or equipment.
The Transportation Infrastructure Bank program would:
- Extend targeted loans and other financial assistance to public or private entities for the planning, acquisition, engineering, construction, reconstruction, repair and rehabilitation of a transportation project or for any other purpose permitted under the enabling federal program;
- Issue bonds in maturities of up to 30 years for all types of projects and create an interim financing program for transportation projects;
- Collaborate with the Department of Transportation DOT on the evaluation of potential transportation projects, fulfilling federal regulations regarding capital projects, coordinating with metropolitan planning organizations, ensuring that any projects obtaining assistance are consistent with the statewide capital investment strategy, and advancing local, regional, and statewide transportation objectives; and
- Be administered by the trust with assistance from the DOT, which would be responsible for establishing the list of projects that the trust would finance and the priority in which they would be funded. The Legislature would have until June 15 of every year to reject the transportation financial plan put forth by the DOT.
The measure was approved by the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee.