The Rising Cost of New Jersey’s Toll Road Widenings

During his Thursday budget speech, Gov. Christie took aim at transit riders and said they should prepare for fare hikes and service increases — even though the governor listed NJ Transit as one of several programs that are being slashed even though they “actually have merit, and in most cases make sense.” But there were two clear examples of government waste that the governor didn’t mention:  The widenings of the NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, which are expected to cost the state $3.6 billion.

When these projects were introduced to the public by then-Acting Governor Codey in 2004 and 2005, they carried relatively modest price tags. But more realistic estimates from recent years tell a different story:

Year New Jersey Turnpike (exits 6-8A) Garden State Parkway (30-80) Total
2004/5 $1,300M $135M (exits 63-80 only) $1.4B
2007 $2,000M $500M $2.5B
2008 $2,500M $800M $3.3B
2009 $2,700M $900M $3.6B

These projects would be bad ideas even in flush times. The Turnpike widening will exacerbate traffic and sprawl in surrounding areas, while the Parkway project is designed to fail and will offer virtually no congestion relief even in the short-term.

Christie himself has outlined a possible solution. In his budget speech, the governor said that some state projects should be delayed “until the state has the resources to pay for them.” Given New Jersey’s financial condition and the continued decline of toll road traffic, this would be a fiscally responsible approach to the widening projects. Deferring the projects would also give the governor time to review whether they are really in the state’s best interests.

5 Comments on "The Rising Cost of New Jersey’s Toll Road Widenings"

  1. WTF. I just rad that Chritie will not allow any toll increases and then driving home, I see the Pascak Toll plaza, at least driving sounth increases from $0.50 to $1.00 today!

    What gives?

  2. Tri-state should look at asking NJT to NOT complete the Lackawanna Cutoff extension to Andover which will cost $35 Million and add to the deficit, and the Passaic-Bergen line, another $150 Million and $4 million or more on budget. Why are we expanding marginal services while fares are increased and existing services cut. Same with Parkway widening, as this is not really needed (not the entire length). I disagree with Tri-State on Turnpike widening, however, there should be a HOV/HOT lane in the expanded section, which extends up to the existing HOV lane from Exit 11 to 13A. Also part of the toll increase to fund this project should be put towards track and signal work needed to expand the parallel Northeast Corridor Line including bus and parking projects to support increased access, like a new North Brunswick station.

  3. The Lackawanna Cutoff restoration with rail service to Scranton is an amazingly efficient use of resources in comparision to what it would cost to add more capacity to I80 over the Deleware to PA. People commute all the way to NYC from Scranton – daily, plus many people go to the Poconos on weekends from NYC. This link is badly needed and has been for decades.

  4. We cannot afford more road widenings!
    Wake up America!
    The world is running out of oil for our cars and trucks
    as graphically illustrated by the BP Gulf oil disaster extracting what oil is left from 1 mile below the ocean.
    70% of US oil usage is for transportation, most of that for cars and trucks. Trains are ALREADY electric and can carry 10x the people as cars with less maintenance costs and without destroying acres upon acres of green space destroyed by ever-widening (but still congested) highways.
    Transportation is also responsible for 38% of greenhouse emissions.
    For North Jersey we already have train lines which are vastly underutilized even though we pay for the tracks and peak hour trains.
    The most cost effective transit solution is to run trains every half hour on every train line and supplement them with shuttle vans, zip cars, bike paths and other transit options. NJ Transit only spent $300 Million to operate all its transit providing 363 million rides. Versus $8,400 per year cost for a car not to mention $.50 per mile.
    What is MOST needed in North-Central Jersey is to build a train line to parallel Route 287 to 87 which could connect
    ALL the train lines (Coast, Northeast Corridor, Raritan Valley, Gladstone, Morris, Boonton, Main/Bergen, and Pascack Lines) and eventually even cross the Tappan Zee Bridge to MetroNorth and Amtrak.
    There are thousands of jobs, offices, stores all along the 287 corridor which would then be transit accessible.
    Furthermore it would increase connectivity enormously by allowing connections along 287 within minutes instead of the tedious and totally impractical trips all the way to Secaucus and back.

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