STATE – New Jersey’s roads and bridges will require an investment of $21.3 billion over the next five years, according to a report released Wednesday by New Jersey Policy Perspective.
“New Jersey’s roads and bridges are quite literally falling apart, and the revenue streams intended to rebuild them are not sufficient to address the state’s urgent needs,” said Gordon MacInnes, president of New Jersey Policy Perspective and the author of the report. “Investing in our roads and bridges will create jobs, increase public safety and save future taxpayers $4 to $5 billion in interest costs.”
While Trenton politicians have largely focused on proposals to offer modest tax cuts to boost the state’s economy, investing the money in modernizing and improving New Jersey’s existing highways and bridges would be a better use of scare funds, according to the report.
“Investment is required, not only to produce more and better-paying jobs and attract employers who are anxious to take advantage of New Jersey’s place in the center of the world’s largest market, but to provide its residents with a more efficient, less congested transportation system,” the report says.
New Jersey will fall $7.5 billion short of the money needed to maintain its roads and bridges if it relies only on current funding sources. Though lawmakers were ultimately unable to find the money for a tax cut in this year’s state budget, the report suggests that the $1.6 billion per year that a tax cut is estimated to cost could be used to address most of the funding gap.
The report also recommends increasing New Jersey’s 14.5 cent-per-gallon gas tax, which is currently the third-lowest in the nation and would remain below the national average even if doubled. If the gas tax were increased by a nickel, the typical New Jersey driver would pay just $16 more per year.
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