Lettiere: Governor's '04 Budget proposal
generate 105,000 jobs, $6.1 billion in economic activity
(Trenton) - Governor James E. McGreevey’s proposed FY 2004 budget for the Department of Transportation and NJ TRANSIT will finance 105,000 construction jobs, generate $6.1 billion in direct economic benefits and prevent fare increases through the end of the year, while completing needed repairs to the state’s highways and mass transit systems, Transportation Commissioner Jack Lettiere testified today before the Assembly Budget Committee.
“Governor McGreevey has said, and I firmly believe, that even in hard times, a budget has to be a blueprint for the future and it has to reflect our values,” Lettiere told the committee. “Full funding of the transportation budget will improve safety on our roads, enhance the quality of life for working families, ensure the vitality of our state’s economy, and preserve property tax relief for years to come.”
The $2.58 billion capital budget proposal, which would combine $1.16 billion in state funding from the Transportation Trust Fund with $1.42 billion in federal highway and mass transit support, would target spending on “Fix it First” highway repair projects and “Back to Basics” rail and bus rehabilitation work. Consistent with Governor McGreevey’s anti-sprawl “Smart Growth” policy, just 4% of the proposed budget would be spent on highway expansion. NJ TRANSIT would add 30,000 new seats on trains and buses to accommodate demand for service and attract more riders.
Lettiere said the budget proposal includes $20 million to advance the Highway Safety initiative through the installation of highway median barriers and to provide additional transportation information technology to accelerate response times by emergency personnel to accidents.
The plan also calls for $290 million to repair or replace 76 bridges, $183 million for intersection improvements and road reconstruction, $126 million in congestion relief projects, and $265 million in state aid to counties and municipalities.
NJ TRANSIT’s program includes $222 million to improve the reliability of the rail system through track and tie replacement, and the installation of safety equipment aboard trains and along the right-of-way. Another $172 million is proposed to acquire 100 bi-level passenger cars, the final installment of Comet V rail cars, and 33 diesel locomotives that pull longer trains, to provide an additional 30,000 seats.