The massive Garden State Parkway interchange 91 reconstruction project has now fully come to a stop due to a lack of funding in the state’s Transportation Trust Fund, and township officials say they have not heard from their state counterparts how the shutdown might affect the timeline to completion.
The project is technically a county undertaking, but is being largely funded by the state. After the state legislature and Gov. Chris Christie failed to come to a compromise on raising the state’s gas tax last week, the governor ordered most projects funded through the TTF shut down.
“They came to an organized stop before the stop-work order,” said Business Administrator Joanne Bergin.
Bergin said that township officials have not heard from the state since the project was shut down last Friday, and there is seemingly no solution to repairing the immense number of potholes and bumps in the roads during the interim.
“They’re not our roads,” said Mayor John Ducey, responding to a question from a member of the public at Tuesday night’s township council meeting who asked if township crews could temporarily repair potholes.
Brick officials said people who experience damage to their vehicles must contact the county.
The gas tax hike would have funded the TTF’s ongoing projects; the current gas tax now only raises enough money to pay down the fund’s debt for past projects, state officials have said. Though the state Senate favored a measure that would raise the gas tax between 23 cents and 52 cents per gallon, depending on the price of fuel, the tax hike died when Christie reached an agreement with the state Assembly that would have simultaneously cut the state sales tax by 1 percent. The gas tax faced opposition from many New Jersey residents, who already shoulder the nation’s highest property tax burden. New Jersey residents also pay among the highest per-mile costs for road construction, due in part to the state’s prevailing wage law, reform of which was not present in either the Senate or Assembly bills.
The interchange 91 project is one of two projects in Brick that have been stopped, the second being the Route 35 reconstruction project. The Route 35 project, however, is nearly completely finished, while the interchange project is about at its midpoint. Ducey said the county had previously estimated the project would have been completed in February.
The project constructs a full interchange at exit 91 off Burnt Tavern Road, allowing vehicles to enter and exit the Parkway in both directions. It also includes numerous new intersections and traffic flow measure to help alleviate bottlenecks, which have been common in that part of town for years.