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Infrastructure Problems Plague the Garden State

3-29-13

By Brenda Flanagan
NJ Today

Road crews poured concrete into the massive sinkhole created by a recent water main break in Hoboken — the third one in two days. Residents had to boil their drinking water.

“I think it’s a mess. We just finished drying out from the storm and there’s two holes — one out that way and one over here,” said Hoboken resident Joseph Griffo.

“Luckily I don’t drink the tap water too often, but I brushed my teeth with it and afterwards I saw you were supposed to even boil it for that so I hopefully I get anything,” said Hoboken resident Frank Mallon.

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Breaks and leaks drain away 20 percent of New Jersey’s drinking water — before it even reaches your faucet — according to a recent study. Estimates to repair the system — $8 billion over 5 years.

“It’s gonna cost some money for sure,” said Hoboken resident Jeff Smith.

Every storm stresses New Jersey’s electrical grid — plaguing residents with power outages. PSE&G alone is planning $4 billion in upgrades over the next few years. But it’s the highways that hurt the most.

Driving on New Jersey roads can shake your fillings loose — and cost you extra time and money. Ingrid Gomez drives a truck now. She used to drive a car until, “I hit some kind of hole and my tire almost came off the car. So I don’t drive a car any more,” she said.

Then there’s New Jersey bridges — like the Pulaski Skyway — with its crumbling concrete and rusting steel girders. A total overhaul’s scheduled this year. A recent engineering study shows almost 10 percent of New Jersey’s bridges are “structurally deficient” and more than 26 percent are functionally obsolete. Roads? Sixty-six percent are poor or mediocre, costing New Jersey motorists $3.5 billion a year in extra repairs. That’s $601 per motorist. It’s a national crisis.

“When the American Society of Engineers put out their 2013 report card on our national infrastructure, they gave us the best overall grade in 12 years,” said President Barack Obama. That’s the good news. The bad news is we went from a B to a B+.”

The president called for billions of extra tax dollars to be invested in the aging infrastructure. The question is, who’s going to pony up that money?