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Despite Complaints, The NJDOT Insists Progress Is Being Made [AUDIO]

Many Jersey commuters are constantly complaining about over-crowding on trains and highways, but the head of the New Jersey Department of Transportation insists progress is being made.

Flickr User Doug Tone

DOT Commissioner Jim Simpson says, “The future is bright. There’s a plan in place to fund the Transportation Trust fund for the next 5 years, and over the past two years our road surface conditions have gone from 47 percent satisfaction, which is good, only 47 percent of our roads are good to 53 percent. And in the next 9 years, with the current level of funding, we’ll be up to 90 percent.”

He says with respect to bridges it’s a great story as well.

“We’re in better shape than our neighboring states.  And also, compared to the rest of the country we’re in better shape.  People have this belief our bridges are in really bad shape.  We’ve got 65 hundred bridges, it’s a lot of bridges, but we’re making progress.”

Simpson says the transportation game plan for the next 4 years is pretty straight-forward.

“To improve the safety of the state across modes, to improve reliability , on-time performance.  We’re actually operating the transportation network, unlike it’s ever been operated before.  We’ve got all sorts of metrics in place.  We’re attacking litter, graffiti, potholes, you know we’ve had no pothole complaints this year because we’ve attacked the pothole problem.  We’re making the investments that are necessary to take 75 year old bridges that have outlived their useful life, and now we’re rebuilding them for the next 75 years.  We’re spending 2 billion dollars for the roads and bridges.  We’re spending a $1.6 billion on transit, the turnpike build is about a billion and a half a year – and we’re doing incredible projects like the widening from 6 to 9.”

His advice to frustrated commuters caught in jam-ups and delays is to be patient.

“Look, this has taken decades to create this problem.  The unbridled growth of development everywhere.  Route 1 is the same as when it was laid down I think in the 1920’s, and yet we’ve got, I think it’s 10 times the traffic.  We don’t have the billions of dollars to put a 3rd lane in on many of these roads, and that doesn’t always solve the problem.  So we’re going to work with quick-fix technologies to get it done.”

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