Billions of federal transportation dollars will flow to New Jersey in the coming months and years after President Joe Biden signs the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill Monday at a White House ceremony.
Deputy U.S. Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg, calling the bill the “largest investment in infrastructure since the creation of the interstate highway system,” said states could see some of the money within months, while other programs will take longer to get underway. The transportation bill sets policy for the next five years.
According to the White House and U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, New Jersey will receive at least $13.5 billion over the next five years under the infrastructure bill. Here’s what’s in the legislation that could benefit the Garden State.
-- Airports. The bill includes around $272 million to help fund improvements to New Jersey airports.
-- Amtrak. The nation’s passenger railroad will get $66 million, including funds for the Northeast Corridor. Amtrak has proposed extending its route network, including running trains from New York City through New Jersey to Scranton and to Easton and Allentown, all in Pennsylvania.
-- Bridge repairs. Under the current federal formula, the state will receive $1.1 billion. The state ranked 21st among the 50 states with 502, or 7.4%‚ of its 6,801 bridges rated as deficient, according to an analysis of Federal Highway Administration data by NJ Advance Media.
-- Broadband. The White House said 31% of New Jersey households do not subscribe to an internet service. The state will receive at least $100 million to expand high-speed internet connections to least 115,468 residents. In addition, there would be funding to subsidize access for 1.6 million low-income New Jerseyans.
-- Climate change. Based on historical formulas, the state will receive $15 million to protect against wildfires.
-- Cyberattacks. New Jersey will expect $17 million to protect its computer systems.
-- Electric vehicles. To encourage the move to electric cars from gasoline-powered vehicles, the bill includes funding for a network of charging stations. New Jersey could expect to receive $104 million.
-- Gateway. Biden has endorsed it. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has touted it. Trottenberg called it a “huge priority.” Full funding is in place for a new Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River, and billions of additional dollars were put in accounts that could be used to help fund the new Hudson River tunnel. But first, the Federal Transit Administration needs to change its rating to allow the Gateway Tunnel to tap those funds. Trottenberg said the Biden administration was working “to get the next steps to that project completed.”
-- Highways. New Jersey will get $6.8 billion for highways over five years. The state has hundreds and hundreds of miles of highway rated as being in poor condition. That has helped increase commuting times by 8.8% since 2011, and costs the average motorist an additional $713 a year.
-- Lead pipes. The state Legislature has passed legislation requiring that every lead water pipe be replaced, and the infrastructure bill will provide $1 billion to help cover the cost. Newark residents in August 2019 started lining up for bottled water because of high lead levels. The American Water Works Association estimated it would cost $2.3 billion to replace New Jersey’s 350,000 lead service lines.
- Mass Transit. Under the current plan, the state will get $4.1 billion for public transportation such as NJ Transit. Some of those funds could be used to replace outmoded buses and trains as 25% of such vehicles are past their useful life.
-- Reconnecting neighborhoods. “Almost every American city has had a highway that has plowed through communities of color or cut off a neighborhood,” Trottenberg said. There is $1 billion in the bill to reconnect communities, and Trottenberg said other federal funds could be used as well. One of those highways is Interstate 280 through Orange, and Rep. Donald Payne Jr., D-10th Dist., plans to work with local mayors and other elected officials on that issue, according to spokesman Patrick Wright.
-- Superfund. There is funding in the bill to help clean up Superfund sites, which New Jersey has more of than any other state.
-- Toll credits. New Jersey has built up $5.5 billion in credits for using toll revenues to maintain its interstate highways. The credits then are used to cover the local share of federally-funded road and bridge projects. The state has so many credits that it can’t spend them all, and the bill would let it sell them to other states at a discount. New Jersey therefore could raise billions of dollars for highway construction without raising taxes while the buying states could cover their local shares for less money.
Following an election that saw Gov. Phil Murphy survive an unexpectedly tight race for re-election and Republicans pick up seats in the state Legislature, Democrats said that the infrastructure bill could help going into the 2022 midterm elections.
In a Monmouth University Poll released Wednesday, 65% of Americans supported the measure, with 31% in opposition.
“I think we’re in a good spot now,” said Rep. Donald Norcross, D-1st Dist. “We’re going to keep to our message of passing bills that will help people.”