As Congress considers a bill to slash transportation funding to New Jersey and the nation, U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez (D-Hoboken) and Frank R. Lautenberg (D-Cliffside Park) today sent a joint letter to Gov. Chris Christie, asking him to assess how the Republican bill would impact New Jersey.
In the letter, the senators estimate New Jersey would lose $3 billion over the next six years under the bill proposed by Florida Republican John Mica, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
A response from Christie’s office was not immediately available.
In their letter seeking Christie’s assessment, Menendez and Lautenberg said the governor’s aid “would be useful in our efforts to reauthorize a bill that will encourage growth, get the economy back on track and serve New Jersey’s transportation needs.”
The letter asks Christie to assess the impact of the proposed cut on the governor’s five-year transportation plan. “Can the state make up for this loss of funding without cutting transportation services? A detailed impact assessment would be valuable to us and the entire Congressional delegation.”
Robert Briant Jr., CEO of the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association of New Jersey, said he is closely watching the proposed transit spending cutbacks, and said their impact on New Jersey would be substantial.
“In New Jersey, we depend on the movement of goods and services and people, and our infrastructure is in dire need of investment,” Briant said. “A cut like this would have a severe impact on the competitiveness of this state … it creates jobs and has a ripple effect throughout the economy.”
Briant said the construction industry “is struggling right now — there is very little private work, and a lot of the municipal and county work has been cut back.” He said bidding on projects is extremely competitive because of the shortage of work: “These are the best prices the taxpayers have gotten in the past 30 years.”
The senators told Christie the Senate is proposing a two-year bill that maintains current levels of transit spending. “In order to achieve such a bill, at least $12 billion in offsets will need to be found,” the letter reads. “Assuming acceptable funding offsets are identified, how might this approach affect the state’s planning for transportation spending over the next two years and for the duration of your transportation plan? Again, an assessment of these impacts would be appreciated.”