Pennsylvania, New Jersey Facing Major Highway Infrastructure Problems
Pennsauken, NJ (Law Firm Newswire) March 6, 2015 – The outlook in the Keystone State has improved, while a funding gap has complicated issue in the Garden State.
Keystone State residents received some sobering news in February when the Pennsylvania State Transportation Commission issued a report that found 35 percent of the commonwealth’s local bridges to be structurally deficient. And in neighboring New Jersey, the highway infrastructure news from the same month was even worse; the Garden State is also grappling with the problem of how to pay for much-needed repairs to its crumbling roads and bridges.
According to Pennsylvania’s Transportation Performance Report, up to 8,821 miles of road pavement are in need of rehabilitation or reconstruction.
There are bright spots. Some key transportation indicators, such as driver safety, have improved in recent years, and progress has been made on repairing structurally deficient state-owned bridges in Pennsylvania — the number of such spans dropped from 6,034 in 2008 to 4,019 in 2014.
But despite the progress made in upgrades, the Commission’s report found that 16 percent of state-maintained bridges are still structurally deficient, and that the average age of a span in the commonwealth is 50 years old. Additionally, the number of locally owned, structurally deficient bridges has gone up from 2,048 in 2007 to 2,218 in 2014.
“Bridges are a critical part of Pennsylvania’s transportation network, especially in the Philadelphia metropolitan area,” said Steven Petrillo, a prominent attorney in Pennsauken, New Jersey whose firm specializes in personal injury law. “While public safety campaigns have succeeded in helping reduce the number of alcohol-related and distracted- or drowsy-driver-related highway fatalities and in increasing the use of seat belts, proper road and bridge maintenance remains a key element of public highway safety in need of attention.”
The structural state of bridges has been a major issue in neighboring New Jersey, too, and the matter in the Garden State has been compounded by the vexing problem of finding funding for the desperately needed repairs.
The magnitude of the problem in New Jersey is clear: according to a 2013 report by the American Society of Civil Engineers, 66 percent of the state’s roads are in “poor or mediocre” condition, while 36 percent of its bridges are “structurally deficient or obsolete.”
The state is struggling to defray the cost of repairs to bridges and roads. A recent report found that New Jersey’s state government spends more money per mile on transportation than any other state — more than eight times the national average, to be more precise. A densely populated landscape with a large infrastructure, expensive land, a high cost of living and union-related construction wages have all been cited as causal factors.
New Jersey’s transportation trust fund is about $15 billion in debt. Democrats, who dominate the state legislature, have eyed an increase in the gasoline tax as a source of a $2 billion infusion to help. At 10.5 cents a gallon, New Jersey’s gas tax is half that of the taxes in Pennsylvania and New York. Republican Governor Chris Christie has stated his opposition to tax increases in principle, but he may give Republican lawmakers a tacit green light to override any veto of a gas tax hike after he stated that “all options are on the table” for replenishing the fund.
“Any consensus toward an increase in the gasoline tax would only address a fraction of the shortfall in New Jersey’s transportation fund,” Petrillo said. A more comprehensive solution must be found for a problem that affects the safety of everyone in New Jersey.”Learn more at http://www.petrilloandgoldberg.com/ Petrillo & Goldberg Law 6951 North Park Drive Pennsauken, NJ 08109 1333 Race Street Philadelphia, PA 19107 70 South Broad Street Woodbury, NJ 08096 Phone: 856-486-4343 Fax: 856:486-7979