On Friday, TSTC wrote to Governor Corzine stating that using federal Build America Bonds — authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — to pay for the expansion of the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway would violate federal law. The Build America Bonds were authorized by the federal stimulus package, and offer government subsidies on interest rate costs.
“It is our position that the issuance of Build America Bonds to support the projects would violate the requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 due to the lack of a mandated environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969,” wrote TSTC general counsel Kyle Wiswall.
“We request that you either cancel the bond offering insofar as it includes Build America Bonds or begin the preparation of the applicable environmental review of the projects as required by federal law,” the letter continued.
For the non-lawyers among us, here’s the translation: projects that receive federal funding must receive federal environmental approval. Neither the Turnpike nor the Garden State Parkway expansions have undergone federal environmental review. Therefore, neither are eligible for federal funding. Until now, both were slated to receive only state funding, so the cursory state environmental review was all that the law required.
The warnings were not heeded by the Authority. This afternoon, the agency released the bond offerings, totaling $1.375 billion.
This recent move again calls into question the legality of the projects. TSTC already has a lawsuit pending over the Garden State Parkway widening.