BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Lawmakers Outline Plans for Transportation Funds

By Erin Delmore
Correspondent

“This project has been talked about for probably 30 years,” said Sen. Nicholas Scutari.

The Tremley Point Connector in Linden is a long-held dream of local lawmakers who say the direct link between the New Jersey Turnpike and the Tremley Point section of Linden will get trucks off residential roads and spur economic development.

“What it will do is it will build a one-mile stretch which will allow truck traffic to directly access the Tremley Point area without having to have the trucks go down from Carteret all the way down Route 1 and come back down through these residential areas,” Scutari said.

Lawmakers said $9 million has already been spent on the project and now, $2 million more thanks to recently enacted legislation that sent $400 million into the Transportation Trust Fund this year. The additional $2 million will go toward completing preliminary engineering studies. Lawmakers said the infusion of cash will attract federal funds.

“Two years ago I went to Washington, D.C. because we were going to be losing federal funding for this project because the state had not been willing to commit the resources to get it done. And true to their word, we sat here with our legislative delegation and Sen. Sweeney a little over a year ago, and they said we’re not going to talk about the Tremley Point Connector any more. We’re going to build it,” said Freeholder Christopher Hudak.

We asked Senate President Steve Sweeney how state lawmakers divvied up the dough when it came to deciding which construction projects to fund. Residents in the southern part of the state — Sweeney’s home turf — are sounding off about the lack of funded projects in the region: a total of four in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and southern Ocean counties.

“Look, I can’t, because I live in South Jersey, say all the projects have to be in South Jersey. There’s priorities throughout the state and the Gloucester, Camden/Gloucester light rail project got their funding to finish their environmental impact study. So there are some big projects going on and I would remind my friends that the Route 42/295 project that’s over $1 billion has been under construction so you need to move the money around the state,” Sweeney said.

Of the $400 million allocated to the TTF, $140 million will go to New Jersey Transit for tech and safety improvements. The remaining $260 million is earmarked for road and bridge work throughout the state.

Sweeney said that the construction project in Linden is expected to create a slew of new jobs, which he said would pay dividends beyond the state’s investment. The state is slated to put some $2 billion into the TTF on average every year for the next eight years.