TRENTON — New Jersey motorists could be considered rough riders.
The Department of Transportation rated more than 8,400 miles of lane pavement on 400 roads statewide and found half of the highways to be deficient. That means they’re full of potholes and cracks that slow traffic and lead to vehicle repairs. Twenty percent are rated in “good” condition and 30 percent are “fair.”
Among the worst state roads in southern New Jersey the report identified large stretches of Routes 30, 322 and 40 in Atlantic County, Routes 9 and 47 in Cape May County, Routes 47 and 55 in Cumberland County and Routes 9 and 72 in southern Ocean County.
Gov. Chris Christie said the report, issued late Thursday, justifies his proposal for a five-year, $8 billion Transportation Capital Plan that would begin in fiscal year 2012. DOT Commissioner James Simpson said Gov. Chris Christie’s transportation plan calls for spending $284 million on road repairs in the first year alone.
“New Jersey’s roads take a beating from heavy traffic and our transportation-based industries. We need a sustained, multi-year effort to improve the condition of our state’s roads,” Christie said. “This new roadway condition report spells out the need for high investment levels, and our five-year transportation capital plan paves the way for better roads and economic growth.”
In January, Christie proposed using $1.6 billion a year from tolls, taxes and borrowing to keep the state Transportation Trust Fund, which pays for state road and bridge work, from running out of money in June. The plan includes $2.6 billion in new borrowing and as much as $3 billion that was to be dedicated to building a second rail tunnel under the Hudson River. Christie terminated the tunnel project in October, saying the state couldn’t afford potential cost overruns.
Some Democrats criticized the plan for relying too heavily on borrowing. In December, Christie borrowed more than $1 billion to keep the Transportation Trust Fund solvent through June.
Fixing every pavement problem on all state highways would cost $812 million, including $134 million in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Ocean counties. The DOT uses a mix of preventive maintenance, resurfacing, and roadway reconstruction with the goal of lowering the percentage of deficient highways to 20 percent within 10 years, a department statement said.
“The Governor’s Transportation Capital Plan uses hard data to drive investment decisions, and helps New Jersey turn a corner toward smoother, safer roads,” Commissioner James Simpson said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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