Report finds New Jersey’s roads rank last in terms of cost to maintain and condition
A new report says that New Jersey’s state roads are “the worst of both worlds.” They are both expensive to maintain and are in poor condition. This is not the first time that the Reason Foundation has taken aim at New Jersey’s highways.
“I know that it’s a sensitive topic. But it’s New Jersey’s data. It’s not our data. We’re just analyzing it,” says Reason Foundation senior managing director Baruch Feigenbaum.
The Reason Foundation is a libertarian group. For the third year in a row, they have ranked New Jersey last in state highway cost-effectiveness and condition. The annual study found that for each lane per each mile of state highway, New Jersey spends $1.1 million on average including $40,000 per lane mile to maintain.
New Jersey drivers spend an average of 86 hours every year stuck in traffic, the most in the nation. Drivers in Utah, for example, spend less than two hours a year.
“That's probably not surprising. We know a lot of New Jersey residents, especially from the North, go into New York City. There's a limited number of bridges and tunnels,” says Feigenbaum.
The Reason Foundation has been criticized before because although it uses data the state reports to the Federal Highway Administration, that's only for state roads like the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway.
“New Jersey has a lot of county roads, as we call them, that are not state-run roads and the state system is relatively small,” Feigenbaum says.
“We have about 284 [Department of Transportation] bridges that are functionally deficient and so we need to look at how we program those bridges in,” said state Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti.
New Jersey ranks somewhat better on structurally deficient bridges - 30 out of 50. State DOT officials say they will be able to fix some of them with money from the Biden administration's infrastructure program.
“It's really going to depend on the state. If the state has a system for using the money wisely and has prioritized the most-needed things, so if for example, it prioritizes deficient bridges, then I think it could do a lot of good,” Feigenbaum says.
And this could mean the cost to New Jersey residents will finally be worth it.
“I don’t actually enjoy telling people that their state is terrible, as I’m doing right now,” Feigenbaum says. “I don't hate New Jersey, I'm actually originally from New Jersey.”
The state Department of Transportation did not respond to a request for comment.