Federal Transportation Bucks Funneled To NJ [AUDIO]
New Jersey is receiving 962 million dollars in federal transportation money for fiscal year 2013.
Some Department of Transportation officials are expressing a bit of disappointment that the funding is down slightly from 2 years ago, but they're still eager to get their hands on the money- because it's so badly needed.
DOT spokesman Joe Dee says, "It's the same story nationwide- all the states are getting the same amount of money for fiscal year 2013 that they got this year…And Jersey's appropriation has gone down slightly over many years, because of population shifts."
He says the funds will allow the Department to continue its emphasis on a Safety and State of Good Repair program, which means "increasing the percentage of our roads that are in acceptable condition - and decreasing the number and the percentage of bridges that are structurally deficient - we've been making headway in both of those areas and we'll continue to do so with this reauthorization."
Dee adds the money will also be used for a couple of major projects coming up.
And "that includes getting the Direct Connection underway down in South Jersey…It's where 295 and 42 and 76 all come together…Unfortunately, just the way the roads were built, and the constraints at the time, you basically have to exit 295 to get back onto 295 in a very tight area, and it's created congestion, it creates safety issues, it creates problems for commuters on a daily basis."
In addition, he says the funds will be used for "the Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridge - that bridge will be re-built."
Dee points out the money will not be used to start building new highways from scratch.
"Here in Jersey, we've reached a point where we're just so densely populated and densely developed, that the idea of just being able to build more roads is extremely expensive and it's not always feasible…that's not our focus right now, our focus is safety and state of good repair - expansion is always the last resort."
He stressed, "The federal funding is absolutely essential…It's a huge part of our budget…clearly, a very important component."