New Jersey’s Gubernatorial primary is on Tuesday, June 2. Tri-State took a look over the candidates’ websites and statements to the press to glean what, if any, thoughts they had on transportation. Below is a list of the candidates and their positions.
Chris Christie, the former U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, says that his administration will utilize “innovative procurement methodologies” like Design/Build/Operate/Maintain (DBOM), which he predicts will save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in the cost of transportation and construction projects, making more projects possible without increasing spending. The Federal Highway Administration describes the DBOM model as a form of public-private partnership that combines the design and construction responsibilities of design-build procurements with operations and maintenance. Citing the success of the PPP model used on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, Christie expects DBOM will expedite projects and enable more efficient transportation project rollout.
Steve Lonegan, the former Mayor of Bogota, recently stated that he would abolish the state transportation trust fund and add a budget line for the gasoline tax, paying transportation costs from the regular budget. Toll roads would be allowed what they collect and NJ Transit would move to a pay-as-you go standard where it would control its own income and expenses. On his campaign site, he criticizes Corzine and “others” for promoting transit hubs and urban centers such as Newark and Camden. He argues that the free market and local zoning boards should be more involved in local development decisions. Lonegan was also one of the leaders in the fight against increasing tolls on the Garden State Parkway and NJ Turnpike, and was actually arrested for leafleting outside one of Governor Corzine’s hearings on the issue.
Richard Merkt, currently serving his sixth term in the State Assembly, was a vocal opponent of the recent toll hikes, dubbing them “The Son of Monetization.” Instead he backed an alternate fiscal plan that would constitutionally dedicate $500 million of existing motor vehicle fees to the TTF and cut $500 million from the general budget, which he says would allow the state to:
1) Fully fund an annual $1.9 billion Transportation Trust Fund program through 2014 with $1.5 billion of pay-as-you-go funding;
2) Provide the full state match for the trans-Hudson tunnel project;
3) Leave the TTF with a $700 million surplus account and an uncommitted $300 million annual revenue stream in 2014; and
4) Do it all without raising the gas tax or increasing other taxes or fees.
Like Lonegan, Merkt cites problems with the the Council on Affordable Housing, and proposes to replace the Council with a new state housing policy that incorporates more local input, with a goal of encouraging a system based on “existing concentrations of the state’s population, as well as the availability of existing public transportation and other necessary resources.”
Jon Corzine, the current Governor, does not directly discuss transportation or land use on his website, but does have a four-year record to draw from. Early in his first term, the Governor established the $74 million Pedestrian Safety Initiative and oversaw the 2006 reauthorization of the Transportation Trust Fund, which financed the capital fund through a series of bonds. Corzine also introduced an “Asset Monetization” plan that initially called for a public-private partnership for NJ toll roads, but in the end amounted to a toll hike on the Garden State Parkway and NJ Turnpike. The revenue generated by the increase will fund the ARC Tunnel and the widening of both roadways, in addition to general maintenance.
Carl Bergmenson, Councilman and Mayor of Glen Ridge, promises to eliminate toll roads, citing them as “patronage mills” and an inefficient way to collect taxes. He states that eliminating tolls will save the expense of collecting them and allow the state to obtain millions of dollars in matching federal highway funds that are not available for roads that have tolls. He goes on to explain that eliminating toll roads will also reduce congestion, pollution, the number and severity of accidents, and “a whole lot of gas.” He would appoint a bipartisan committee to present a plan to eliminate the tolls on the Garden State Parkway by July 1st, 2011, and to eliminate all roadway tolls in NJ by July 1st, 2013. He would also like to raise the speed limit on NJ’s major highways.
Jeff Boss of Guttenberg has a platform stating that he will remove the Union, Essex, and Bergen County toll plazas within his first week in office and will resign if he is unsuccessful in this endeavor. As the state recovers from the current revenue shortfalls, Boss would eventually remove all of the toll plazas on the Parkway. In order to compensate for the lost revenue, he proposes a 500% toll hike for out-of-state vehicles. His platform also promises to “get New Jersey roads working correctly, with less traffic,” and suggests building a road from Cape May to Sparta and burying power lines so the land may be used for roads, parks, bicycle paths and windmill farms.
Roger Bacon does not mention transportation on his campaign blog.