After years of wrangling, Gov. Chris Christie and lawmakers finally agreed last fall on new funding for the state’s depleted Transportation Trust Fund.
But, with less than a month to go before the deadline for selecting the infrastructure projects that will be paid for by the fund, a key committee that’s supposed to help with the selection of those projects has not even been officially chosen.
The four-person Annual Transportation Capital Program Approval Committee is made up of members recommended — one each — by the governor, Senate president, Assembly speaker, and commissioner of transportation. The purpose of the committee “is to ensure that legislative input is provided in the process of selecting transportation capital projects” funded through the TTF.
Senate President Steve Sweeney said he is not concerned about any delay. “We’re waiting on the governor … what we’re hoping to do is get the committee in place in time to have a say on the projects. We want to make sure the projects are real.”
Less sanguine about the committee’s very purpose is Assemblyman John Wisniewski — a gubernatorial candidate and chairman of the Assembly’s Transportation Committee. He said, “In the past, when you had transportational professionals evaluating different projects … you had some idea that there was a professional basis for the transportation decisions,” said Wisniewski. “This is backroom politics run amok, but it’s traditional Trenton transactional politics.”
Sixteen billion dollars in TTF funds along with another $16 billion in federal matching grants are expected to be allocated over the next eight years.
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