NJ’s decaying bridges among the country’s worst, report finds (PHOTOS)
New Jersey has one of the highest percentages of deficient bridges in the U.S., according to Federal Highway Administration statistics for 2015.
According to the federal statistics, of New Jersey's 6,686 bridges, 2,310 needed repairs or didn't meet safety standards. That's more than a third — and at 34.5 percent, the eighth-highest percentage in the country.
The figure includes bridges that are considered either structurally deficient (596 bridges) or functionally obsolete (1,714) under the Federal Highway Administration's rating system.
It's a slight improvement from 2015's sixth-worst. And a few dozen bridges were removed from 2014's list.
For comparison: Nationwide, 23.2 percent of bridges are considered deficient.
The annual rankings come as New Jersey's Transportation Trust Fund — meant to protect and enhance infrastructure — is just months away from running out of money. While legislators are considering a gas tax to boost the fund, no formal proposal has been put forth.
The state has been spending $3.2 billion a year in federal and state funds on road, bridge and rail projects, but beyond the end of June can’t borrow any additional money and must use the revenues currently put in to pay off $16 billion in debt.
Gov. Chris Christie has suggested he might consider a gas tax in combination with other tax relief, but in his state budget address last month declined to put forward any proposal or take a specific stand on a gas tax.
“I’m the governor and I’ll be here to give them my views and my opinions on their proposals, if they put them forward. But right now they’ve put forward nothing except to say, ‘It’s a crisis!’ Well, it’s not a crisis right now. And it won’t be a crisis at its earliest until July and quite frankly well past that,” he said last week.
As reported by New Jersey 101.5 over the weekend, the term "crisis" was used at least a half a dozen times as legislators and others gathered for a news conference accompanying the release of a new report that finds NJ Transit, over the last 15 years, has reduced spending on capital projects by 19 percent while ridership has grown by 20 percent.
Christie also said on last month's "Ask the Governor" program in the New Jersey 101.5 studio that "No one’s come to me from the Legislature and said, ‘Hey, we’ll do this, so will you do that?’" to propose a bargain on a gas tax.
“If they ever put something up, I’ll react to it. But I’m certainly not going to react in a vacuum to nothing,” Christie said. “They have an obligation. They want to fix the TTF? Come forward with ideas. I did it five years ago without new taxes. Let’s see what they come up with this time.”
New Jersey's decaying infrastructure has been meticulously documented in about 1,000 photos by a firm working with the N.J. Alliance for Action, which recently unveiled its On the Road NJ site, showing bridges, streets and other bits of the road falling apart.