U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez (both D-NJ) were joined today by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to call on Congress to extend funding for the Highway Trust Fund, which is set to expire next week.
Speaking near the $84 million I-80 rehabilitation project, which is financed by the fund, Sen. Booker cited the need for long term investment in our nation's transportation system.
"We are long overdue for a substantial multi-year transportation bill that will provide reliable funding, create thousands of jobs, and allow businesses to thrive," said Sen. Booker. "While I plan to support this critical funding patch, it is a temporary fix. We must take long-term action and stop kicking the can down the road."
The U.S. Dept. of Transportation is set to begin cutting highway reimbursements as early as August, if Congress does not pass an extension. The absence of funding would slow or halt over 100,000 projects that employ approximately 700,000 workers nationwide.
"Congress must do more than simply hit the snooze button again and again on passing a long-term funding solution for our nation's highways and bridges," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "Our states deserve the reliability of a true federal partner to repair our nation's transportation network and our drivers who use bridges and roads like I-80 each day to get to work and deliver freight to customers deserve a safe and reliable way to get there."
In New Jersey, 23,663 jobs would be at risk and 1,311 active highway and transit projects will be slowed or stopped if an extension is not passed. The state has more than 39,000 miles of public roads, over 6,500 bridges, and nearly 1,000 miles of rail freight lines, connecting every corner of our state to businesses and consumers throughout the region.
"Neglecting our transportation needs doesn't save us money--it comes with a cost in lost jobs, in time wasted in traffic, in lives lost on outdated and obsolete roads and transit systems," Sen. Menendez said. "It's time for the naysayers to stop pretending that by ignoring the problem, it will go away. It's time to act and govern and plan for the long-term. It's time to invest in our future."
Work on I-80 began in 2012 and included a major rehabilitation of approximately four miles of travel lanes. The project, which will completely rehabilitate the busy stretch between the Route 202/Littleton Road interchange and the Beverwyck Road interchange - an average of 159,000 vehicles traveling it daily - is expected to be completed in early 2015.