Office of the Governor |
Governor McGreevey introduces Toll Road Merger Bill
$42 Million Savings Over 6 Years Will
Fund High Speed EZPass, Road Repairs
(Trenton) - Governor James E. McGreevey and Acting Transportation Commissioner Jack Lettiere unveiled legislation today that will merge the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, providing $42 million in savings over the next six years and further the Governor's goals of regional Smart Growth planning.
Less than a year ago, the Governor established the Toll Road Consolidation Commission to conduct an analysis of a merger. This week, Senators Andrew Ciesla and Nicholas Sacco, and Assemblymen John Wisniewski, Jack Conners and Assemblywoman Linda Stender introduced bills that would merge the two authorities allowing for more efficient purchasing, hiring and capital planning.
"We know that the answer to making government work smarter does not and cannot always be more money and more spending,” said McGreevey. “The answer instead must be increased efficiency and accountability. With this legislation, we are moving forward on our proposal to merge the Highway and Turnpike Authorities. In addition to streamlining bureaucracy and saving money, consolidation will allow for coordinated and regional planning—planning that advances our smart growth goals."
The legislation would also give the DOT Commissioner unprecedented input on the development of the capital program for the new, singular authority, ensuring that any new capital projects comply with the Governor’s Smart Growth criteria. Currently, the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway authorities are not required to submit their capital programs for the Commissioner’s approval.
“Good government is resourceful and efficient,” said Acting Transportation Commissioner Jack Lettiere. “This legislation gives us the necessary tools to fund much-needed roadway projects, such as the repair of the Driscoll Bridge on the Parkway. The refinancing of existing Turnpike and Parkway debt at lower interest rates will free up precious transportation dollars for capital needs for years to come.”
"In these tough fiscal times, it's important that state government runs as efficiently as it can," said Sacco, D-Hudson. "By consolidating the toll roads, we will create one toll road authority which will oversee New Jersey's roadways, but will also save taxpayers' money."
"In these difficult fiscal times, New Jersey needs to work smarter in delivering services to the people of this state," said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). "Combining these two agencies is smart and it will enable this state to deliver a transportation network much more efficiently.As chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, I am committed to working with the governor in moving this legislation quickly through the Assembly."
If passed by July, the Governor’s plan would allow the merger process would begin with the refinancing of the Turnpike and Parkway debt, abolishment of the eight-person Parkway board of directors, merger of administrative operations and appointment of a single, new executive director of the Turnpike.
Under the legislation, administrative, purchasing, legal, human resources, internal auditing and personnel functions between the two authorities would be merged. Staffing for the new single authority would be cut by 5% by the end of the year. Savings would be realized through operating efficiencies.
A merger would generate a $4 million savings in 2003, $5.9 million in 2004, $6.6 million in 2005, $7.46 million in 2006, $8.16 million in 2007 and $9.8 million in 2008 and every year thereafter.