STUDY: New Jersey’s highway system ranks last in performance, cost-effectiveness

TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey continues to spend far more than its regional neighbors on roads. All the same, evidence has been pouring in for some time now that our infrastructure remains in surprisingly terrible shape relative to the taxpayers’ massive investment

On Thursday, the Reason Foundation dropped a new report finding New Jersey’s transportation system is not only the nation’s least cost-effective but also ranks last in overall performance.

Click here to view the full report.

In fact, New Jersey finished dead last in four of the examined categories (total disbursements per mile, capital-bridge disbursements per mile, maintenance disbursements per mile, and urban area congestion) and in the top ten worst for four others (administrative disbursements per mile, urban interstate percent in poor condition, rural other principal arterial percent in poor condition, and urban other principal arterial percent in poor condition).

Alaska (49th), Rhode Island (48th), Hawaii (47th), Massachusetts (46th) and New York (45th) rounded out the top six worst states overall.

“New Jersey is expected to have somewhat higher costs than many other states, but the state has one of the smallest highway systems in the country so taxpayers could realistically expect New Jersey to improve its ranking by improving its pavement condition and decreasing traffic congestion. The state ranks last in the bottom five in three of four pavement condition categories (urban Interstate pavement condition, rural arterial pavement condition and urban arterial pavement condition), and last in traffic congestion. New Jersey ranks in the bottom five states in eight of the 13 metrics. In relation to nearby states, the report finds New Jersey’s last-place ranking significantly trails Pennsylvania (ranks 35th), and is somewhat closer to Delaware (ranks 42nd), New York (ranks 45th), and Massachusetts (46th),” explained Baruch Feigenbaum, assistant director of transportation for the Reason Foundation.

Unions play a large role in the cost of New Jersey’s road construction and maintenance, with prevailing wage and project labor agreements inflating the per mile cost into the stratosphere. Mismanagement compounds the problem; the Murphy Administration’s notorious and much-discussed over-brining of New Jersey highways last winter raised eyebrows and maintenance costs.

The Garden State’s efficiency problem is unlikely to improve anytime soon.

The Murphy Murphy Administration recently announced that gas tax revenues were down $11 million over the past twelve months; this news makes another fall gas tax hike all the more likely since New Jersey’s October 2016 gas tax hike law foolishly tied future increases to a consumption threshold to ensure, or attempt to ensure, a certain minimum funding level for the Transportation Trust Fund.

There are options. Garden State Initiative (GSI) recently found to cut New Jersey’s road costs by $2 billion without compromising quality. Click here for their report.