To those who care about these issues, it is no secret that the state has been seriously underinvesting in its infrastructure — whether it be its roads, bridges, dams, drinking-water systems or wastewater treatment plants.
This is an issue at the national level, too. According to the ASCE, the United States needs to invest $3.6 trillion in its infrastructure by 2020, but its current level of spending will leave a shortfall of $1.6 trillion. Nevertheless, the report, the first by the organization since 2009, found a slight improvement, raising the overall grade for the nation from a D to a D+. In New Jersey, however, the issues facing the state are particularly sobering. The states were not assigned grades in the report. Here is a look at infrastructure needs by the numbers:
$32.5 billion: Projected cost of upgrading New Jersey’s wastewater treatment facilities over the next 20 years, a figure that will likely rise given the damage to some of the biggest sewage plants suffered during Hurricane Sandy.
$8 billion: Projected cost of infrastructure needs in drinking-water systems over the next two decades. At least 20 percent of treated water in the state is lost because of leaking water systems before it is ever delivered to customers.
$7.3 billion: What New Jersey public school systems spent on capital outlays for school construction and acquisition of land and existing structures between the 2005 to 2008 fiscal years.
$3.5 billion: Driving on roads in need of repairs in New Jersey costs motorists in the state about $601 per driver. Two-thirds of New Jersey’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition, according to the report.
$1 billion: Estimated costs for New Jersey schools in new infrastructure needs.
$323 million: Projected unmet needs of New Jersey’s park system. The state is virtually out of money from the last open space preservation bond issue and lawmakers and the Christie administration have been unable to agree on a stable source of funding to address park improvements.
156.5 million: Tons of cargo handled by New Jersey’s ports in 2009, ranking it fourth in the nation.
$1.25 million: The annual budget of New Jersey’s dam-safety program. It has 13 full-time employees, each of whom oversee an average of 129 state-regulated dams. New Jersey has 217 high-hazard dams, whose failure could result in the loss of life.
407,050: Number of annual passenger trips via transit systems, including bus, light rail, heavy rail, and commuter trains.
1,717: The number of bridges in New Jersey considered functionally obsolete (more than 25 percent of its 6,554 bridges). Another 651 bridges, or 10 percent, are considered structurally deficient.
14.5 cents: New Jersey’s gas tax, which has not been increased in 21 years, is the third lowest in the nation. Virtually all of the funds now go to servicing debt from previous borrowings by the state to fund transportation projects. New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund is essentially broke.