Tri-State received the following letter from NJDOT Commissioner Stephen Dilts today in response to an MTR article which showed that the share of NJDOT’s capital program going to road expansion was higher than in recent years.
I write in response to your May 4, 2009 Mobilizing the Region post entitled “Road Widening Starts to Creep Back Into NJDOT Plans.” NJDOT focuses on its core mission of maintaining our existing infrastructure, rather than expanding the transportation system.
NJDOT remains committed to maintaining and improving our infrastructure. As your post notes, we have made significant progress in improving the condition of our bridges. We have doubled the amount of investment in bridges and have proposed to increase funding for bridge projects in the Fiscal Year 2010 capital program. Over the next two years, NJDOT will repair or replace 75 bridges on the State’s structurally deficient list.
In addition, NJDOT is investing significant resources in improving the condition of our existing roadways. In Fiscal Years 2008 and 2009, NJDOT has spent approximately $529 million on projects that will rehabilitate and repair our pavement. We plan to invest at least another $150 million in pavement improvement before July 2010. These investments in our existing roadways will enable NJDOT to improve at least 1,745 miles of pavement by 2010.
Capacity expansion represents a small fraction of NJDOT’s total capital program, and the few projects that include widening complement the fix-it-first and mass transit projects in which NJDOT concentrates its investments. Capacity expansion is a last resort, and our expansion investments are limited to roadways on which traffic volume is causing serious congestion, threatening quality of life and safety. In order to keep New Jersey’s commercial and vehicular traffic moving, we must implement targeted capacity expansions at a limited number of locations.
Instead of dedicating significant resources to widening projects, as your article suggests, NJDOT is taking a common sense approach that offers congestion relief through targeted improvements and will provide long term benefits to the state’s drivers while preserving and improving the condition of our state’s bridges.
Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Transportation