Saturday, February 09, 2008

NJ Toll Monetization - 3 Million For Bikes...3 Billion For Wider Toll Roads

As reported in January NJDOT Awarded 3 Million Dollars in State Local Aid Bikeway Funds
no doubt a step forward, Pennsylvania has no such state funding mechanism (although DCNR rail trail funds do include some state money).

On the down side is the proposal in the Governor's Asset Monetization plan which allocate 3 Billion Dollars to widen the Garden State Parkway, NJ Turnpike and the Atlantic City Expressway.

Photo on Flickr from Otzberg

Under the plan tolls would go up exponentially to pay off the state debt and fund other highway projects. The plan has generated a mild populist revolt from taxpayers and commuters but has also surprisingly drawn opposition from environmental groups.

In a letter from the Tri State Transportation Campaign and 26 other environmental groups, spending billions to widen roads is not a wise use of funds and will counter NJ's effort to combat global warming:

"Ultimately, the state will find itself even more committed to a system of transport already understood to be woefully inefficient. Moreover, contrary to New Jersey's recent energy policies to reduce climate change, the construction of these roads, as well as the resulting expansion of vehicular traffic of all types, will substantially increase the burning of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions."

As we have stated before road usage fees may be the future of transportation spending. When implemented properly, as in London they can reduce congestion and pollution, while enhancing the infrastructure for bicycling, walking and mass transit. But they could also be used to revive plans for those forgotten Robert Moses era highways that could gather the motoring public's support (i.e. Woodhaven Road, US 202 Doylestown)