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Trouble Ahead for Road Repair Funding

By Brian C. Wahler, President, New Jersey League of Municipalities, Mayor, Piscataway and
Timothy C. McDonough, Chair, NJ League of Municipalities’ Transportation Trust Fund Task Force and Mayor, Hope Township

On June 30, it isn’t a pot hole that awaits the New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund. It is the end of the road.

We have known this day was coming for well over a year. There have been public hearings. There have been press conferences. There have been editorials in the newspapers and interviews on radio and TV. But there has been no agreement on a sustainable solution to the problem.
Absent action - and absent action very soon - our State will run out of the money that is needed to fix our roads and bridges. You can expect more wear and tear on your vehicle. You can expect more detours between you and your destination. And you should anticipate longer waits for response to any emergency needs. There will be no funding to maintain New Jersey’s ailing infrastructure.

You know how important it is to keep your car in good working order. It’s an investment that needs to be made to ensure your ability to get to work and earn a living. It’s an investment in your family’s safety and happiness. It’s an investment that saves you money, in the long run, and time, all along.

All the same benefits come back to all of us, when we are willing to invest the money that is needed for the upkeep of our roads and bridges. While the majority of New Jersey’s roads and bridges are maintained by local governments, only State government can enact a solution. And while State government has time to delay action until much closer to the end of its Fiscal Year on June 30, local governments cannot wait much longer.

Over 550 municipalities operate on a calendar year budget. This Friday, March 13, is the deadline for those municipalities to introduce their budgets. Final budgets need to be adopted by April 24.

That means that, right now, local elected officials are putting the final touches on municipal budget plans. And they are doing so with the knowledge that the Department of Transportation has advised them to anticipate no awards of local transportation funding.

You know that a failure to invest in our infrastructure jeopardizes public safety, our economic vitality and the security of our communities. Regardless of whether you believe we are already in a crisis, or whether you believe that the crisis remains in the distance, there is no doubt that a solution must be found for the Transportation Trust Fund. The case has been made, and the case is clear: this Fund needs to be replenished.

We have called on State policy makers to take decisive action now on this crucial State priority. We repeat that call today. We cannot continue kicking the can ever further down the road. Given the urgent need for road repairs, the can can’t last much longer.