Gas Tax Fallout: What Projects Would a Christie Stop-Work Order Affect?
at Palisade Avenue over Route 139 as part of Pulaski Skyway project (NJ DOT)
What road projects will come to a halt as a result of Gov. Chris Christie's late-night executive order stopping work until the Transportation Trust Fund gets more money? So far — none.
Work on long term projects such as the Pulaski Skyway in North Jersey and the Port Authority's project to raise the Bayonne Bridge already were taking off the long holiday weekend, although lane closures and construction equipment will remain in place.
Christie issued the order late Thursday after the state Senate didn't vote on a plan to increase the gas tax by 23 cents. The plan was approved by the Assembly with Christie's endorsement.
Christie's order directs the the commissioner of Department of Transportation and the executive director of NJ Transit to plan for the "immediate and orderly shutdown of all ongoing work that is funded by the TTFA, with the understanding that any work that is funded by federal funds may continue."
DOT spokesman Steve Schapiro said the Pulaski Skyway rehabilitation and the I-295/I-76/Rt. 42 Direct Connection project are federally funded and work will continue uninterrupted. The DOT has already started working on the plan but Schapiro said "any emergency work that may arise that affects public safety, such as emergency bridge work or repairing a downed traffic signal, will be done as necessary."
NJ Transit "is complying with the governor’s executive order, assembling a list of transit projects and developing an orderly shutdown plan." according to spokeswoman Nancy Snyder.
The plan is due by 11:59 p.m. Saturday.
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which also maintains the Garden State Parkway, is self-funded and unaffected by the executive order.
"We're an independent authority. We issue our own debt. We're not reliant upon any state funding, federal funding or TTF funding to proceed with our capital projects," Turnpike Authority spokesman John O'Hern said. "We actually give money to the TTF. There is a historical payment of $22 million a year made every year."
There is also a five-year plan funding agreement in which the Turnpike gives the TTF $324 million per year.
"About $295 million goes to transit," O'Hern said. The board just approved a new agreement that reduced the five-year payment to $795 million, according to O'Hern.
The Sierra Club was critical of the executive order, calling it "vindictive and plain wrong."
"We should be using the time to come up with a better plan to fund the TTF without bankrupting the state," Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said in a statement.
Tittel said the order is "nothing but revenge because the Senate didn’t blindly follow his lead like the Assembly did and buy into his sell-out of a plan.”
“He wanted it his way but the Senate didn’t agree. It’s Christie’s way or he closes the highway.”