Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Transportation Projects Need One Elusive Thing: Funding

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Transportation Projects Need One Elusive Thing: Funding

Article excerpt

Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey all have insufficient funding to maintain a state of good repair, safety and capacity system expansion projects. Identifying the problem is the easy part. Fixing it – that's more complicated.

The Federal Rail Road Administration originally mandated that positive train control – a system of signals and switches that could prevent many train crashes – be installed and operable by 2015. Even with an extension to December 2018, it's doubtful the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North (which is run by the MTA) and New Jersey Transit will meet this new deadline. But don't blame Washington when it comes to how NJ Transit and the MTA decide to use federal assistance for installing positive train control. Federal support for transportation has remained consistent and is growing over past decades.

When crises occurred – be it 9/11 or Superstorm Sandy in 2012 – Washington was there. Additional billions in assistance above and beyond yearly formula allocations from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration were provided. In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided billions more.

In 2017, Washington made available almost $1 billion to NJ Transit and $1.3 billion to the MTA. For years, it has been their respective decisions to program most of these funds to other capital projects and not to positive train control. Meanwhile, the list of other capital projects needing to be completed, started or even designed is daunting.

In New York, for example, $4 billion of the $6 billion total cost is still needed to construct the Second Avenue Subway Phase Two. This will leave a balance of $14 billion more to pay for Phases Three and Four. Add another $20 billion for those who dream of extending the Second Avenue subway north into the Bronx and south into Brooklyn. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also owes $7.25 billion as New York's 25 percent share for the New Jersey to Penn Station $29 billion Gateway Tunnel project. This also includes the $1.6 billion Portal Bridge project.

In New Jersey, Gov. …

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