Last month the state of Maine canceled a planned widening of the Maine Turnpike, responding to deflating traffic volume projections. The Maine project would have added an additional traffic lane in each direction on an 8-mile stretch just west of Portland. According to Toll Road News, “the draft ten year plan has the start of the widening project set back five years to 2015 from 2010. But officials say actual year to year traffic trends will influence when it is revived.”
Contrast Maine’s smart policy decision with the actions of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. Confronted with similar declining trends, the NJTA continues to pursue widening projects on both the Garden State Parkway and the New Jersey Turnpike to the tune of $3.5 billion. As reported last year by Tri-State, every interchange in the Turnpike’s project area has experienced flat or declining traffic volumes since 2004. The most recent numbers confirm the trend is continuing on both roadways with that seen on the Parkway and Turnpike: the roads’ traffic volumes have declined by 5.6% in the six months ending this past June 30.
The Corzine administration’s push for the two enormous widenings has given it something of a political black eye. The projects, and Tri-State’s lawsuit over the Parkway widening, are a large part of the bottom dropping out of his environmental image.
Image: Tri-State graphic using Maine Turnpike data.