Dwindling transportation fund leaves state road projects uncertain

The New Jersey Department of Transportation says that it is preparing to stop work on road projects across the state, in compliance with an executive order from Gov. Chris Christie.

The transportation trust fund expired at midnight Friday and will soon run out of money. 

Some state lawmakers had a plan to replenish the fund by implementing a 23-cent gas tax hike. The plan also included a 1 percent sales tax decrease. The Assembly voted to approve the plan, and Gov. Christie said that he would sign it. 

However, many members of the Senate opposed the plan and chose not to vote on it during their last session on Thursday.

As a result, the governor issued the executive order that requires the NJDOT and New Jersey transit to come up with a plan by 11:59 p.m. on July 2 for what transportation trust fund projects can be halted in safe and orderly fashion. Christie says what's left of the transportation fund needs to be saved for emergency work.

The DOT says that Christie's order affects projects in all stages of development. 

Work on the Palisades Avenue Bridge in Jersey City was supposed to be completed by September, in time for the new school year. However, officials say that this may not happen.

There were also many bridges in the state, including the Route 35 Bridge in Perth Amboy, which were slated to be replaced due to deteriorating conditions.

Many DOT workers also worry that they will be without a job while the executive order remains in effect.

"The governor is going to be out of the country next week. He's entitled to a vacation, but you would hope that he wouldn't put everybody out of work when he was gone," says Senate President Steven Sweeney.

Sweeney was against the Assembly-approved transportation fund plan.

The status on all of these types of projects depends on how fast lawmakers can come up with a compromise to replenish the fund, according to transportation officials.

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