This week, New Jersey state Sen. Steve Oroho, a Republican, introduced a plan to raise New Jersey's gas tax by an estimated 23 cents per gallon — and it could be far more if wholesale gas prices go up.

It's been strongly opposed by voices on both sides of the aisle, and adamantly so by New Jersey 101.5's own Bill Spadea. But Oroho argues the plan also lowers other taxes and is needed to fund the Transportation Trust Fund that pays for New Jersey's bridges and roads.

The American Society of Civil Engineers, a proponent of the Oroho plan, offered this argument for the hike.


 

No one wants to pay more for anything than they have to, whether it be concert tickets, a new TV, or taxes.

But when it comes to investing in our infrastructure you get what you pay for. And New Jersey hasn’t been “paying” enough in a long time, as the state gas tax that pays into the Transportation Trust Fund, was last raised in 1988.

In the over quarter-century since the gas tax was last increased, it has a lost a quarter of its real dollars. Because of inflation and other factors, the 1988 rate simply cannot get the job done in 2016.

The New Jersey Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) this week released its Report Card for New Jersey’s Infrastructure, grading our state’s infrastructure with an overall GPA of “D+.” Transit received the lowest grade in the report with a “D-.” Roads and bridges didn’t perform much better – each received a “D+.” Those low grades are indicative of an aging, underinvested transit system that was built to move far fewer people, with bridges averaging 51 years old and potholed roads costing the average driver $1,951 a year in extra vehicle operating costs.

Our poor transportation network impacts everyone. As residents and commuters of New Jersey tired of wasting time sitting in traffic and dodging potholes, it’s evident that our transportation network is not what it needs to be.

While New Jersey is a costly state to build in thanks to the quality of and demand for our construction industry, “sticker shock” is not an argument against modernizing our transportation network and making it safer. It’s time for our lawmakers to pass a gas tax that ensures we’re making the investment we need to upgrade our transportation system.

Otherwise, we will all continue to pay the price in other ways—and get nothing more out of it than frustrating commutes.

Luis Barragan, P.E., Report Card Chair
Michael Sears, P.E., Report Card Co-Vice Chair
Greg Landry, P.E., Report Card Co-Vice Chair
New Jersey Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers


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