How NJ Transit will spend its $814 million construction windfall

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TRENTON — NJ Transit’s board of directors has approved a revised capital plan that is accelerating work on seven of its stations, made possible because $814 million from the state’s surplus was transferred to the ‘agency.

More than $5 billion from the state’s record budget surplus has been paid into the Debt Reimbursement and Prevention Fund created a year ago, through which the state pays off debt or for construction without additional loan.

Of that amount, $1.9 billion went to building schools, $230 million went to the Department of Transportation, and $814 million to NJ Transit, which will use it to accelerate projects that had been years on the drawing board.

Transport Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said no one could have predicted what this budget season would bring when the five-year capital plan was drawn up.

“And so New Jersey Transit has a very full plate, but all the extraordinarily large projects,” Gutierrez-Scaccetti said. “It is wonderful to receive so many additional funds to improve our system.

Additional expenses include:

$250 million for the redevelopment of Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden

Walter Rand Transport Center in Camden (Google Maps)

Walter Rand Transport Center in Camden (Google Maps)

$191 million for deck improvements, roof replacement, lighting upgrades and other interior and exterior improvements to Newark Penn Station

An NJ Transit train pulls into Penn Station Newark

An NJ Transit train arrives at Penn Station Newark (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

$176 million for infrastructure and improved access to Hoboken Hoboken Ferry Terminal and Bus Station Building

summer of delays

(David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ)

$49 million for the extension and replacement of existing platforms, the rehabilitation and replacement of elevators and escalators, the installation of new lighting and new windows, the upgrade of HVAC and cooling systems. other internal and external improvements to the New Brunswick Station

New Brunswick Station on October 15, 2019. (Edwin J. Torres/Governor’s Office)

New Brunswick Station on October 15, 2019. (Edwin J. Torres/Governor’s Office)

$48 million for improvements to the flowery field Station

attachment-bloomfield station

$33 million for upgrades to Brick Church station in Orange East

Brick Church Station in East Orange (Google Maps)

Brick Church Station in East Orange (Google Maps)

$27 million for platform replacement, access stair repairs and other internal and external improvements to the Roselle Park station

Roselle Park Station (Google Maps)

Roselle Park Station (Google Maps)

It also includes $40 million for the construction of a track maintenance facility in Clifton.

The NJ Transit Five-Year Capital Plan passed in 2020 was described as “an unconstrained vision,” meaning it included both projects with funding in place and those without funding, to give people an idea options and opportunities.

NJ Transit board members said it’s important the agency has this in place, so there’s a plan for the windfall.

“They created a pathway that would put funds in place as soon as the money was available for important projects,” Vice President Cedrick Fulton said.

“It was an excellent and smart decision on the part of New Jersey Transit to have an unconstrained capital program. It was just, I can say, it was just genius,” said board member James Adams.

Drivers pay more than passengers

NJ Transit also approved its $2.755 billion budget for fiscal year 2023, in which funding for the New Jersey Turnpike exceeds fare revenue — meaning toll road drivers contribute more than transit users in common over the next 12 months.

Only 26% of revenue will come from fares this year. The agency said ridership continues to slowly recover from its pandemic-era plunge, with weekday rail ridership at 55% of pre-pandemic levels; weekend ridership between 80% and 90%, light rail at 75% and bus ridership around 70%.

There is no rate increase in the new budget.

Planned budgets for 2024 and 2025 for NJ Transit continue to balance due to federal COVID recovery funds. But for fiscal year 2026, a huge shortfall of $843 million looms, or 28% of planned spending.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse Bureau Chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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