New Jersey’s Road System Comes at a High Price
Responding to a new report that finds New Jersey spends way more on its roads per mile than any other state, without much to show for it, the state said keeping the roads safe and comfortable is a top priority and one that's made progress over the past few years.
The study released Sept. 17 by the Reason Foundation, using 2012 data, said New Jersey spends more than $2 million per mile to maintain and operate state roads. The national average was $162,202.
New Jersey handles more than 13,000 lane miles.
Despite the record spending, the same study ranked New Jersey 48th for highway performance, using a cost vs. quality formula. Only Alaska and Hawaii ranked below the Garden State.
Steve Schapiro, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said New Jersey is spending more than most states due in part to the high volume of traffic traversing the roads every day, and as a primary commerce corridor for the Northeast region, heavy truck traffic is a daily obstacle.
"All that high volume really takes a toll on our roads, and it requires more frequent work," Schapiro said.
Meanwhile, he said, due to the nature and amount of traffic, New Jersey's road projects are more complex than in other states.
"Typically, our projects have to be done in smaller stages; we often have to work only at night," he said. "Things of that nature, which increase the time and the cost that it takes to complete a job."
Schapiro said costs are also hiked by the fact that New Jersey is a prevailing wage state, and high real estate values result in higher costs for rights-of-way acquisition.
As for the state's poor road performance ranking, the DOT said the percentage of roads in New Jersey rated as acceptable has risen by more than 10 percent since 2008 - from 47 to 58 percent.