Feds award N.J. additional $150M for road improvements

Roads in New Jersey just got a little bit better — or will soon.

The state received an additional $150 million in federal funding from the Federal Highway Administration, Gov. Phil Murphy and Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti announced Wednesday.

The funds are expected to be used for a variety of projects, including road improvements, bridge maintenance, pedestrian safety improvements, bikeway improvements, intersection improvements and capital projects that will ease congestion and improve safety.

It is the second consecutive year NJDOT has received an additional $100 million or more. Here’s why: Each year, FHWA shifts federal funding obligation authority out of those state accounts that are not on course to use up their allocated spending authority to states that have the wherewithal and ability to do so.

FHWA determined that $4.7 billion in obligation authority was available for redistribution for fiscal year 2020. (The states actually requested a total of $7.1 billion.) For fiscal year 2020, NJDOT requested and received $150 million of additional obligation authority — which puts New Jersey in the Top 10 in terms of states receiving the most additional funding. Last year, the state received $100 million.

“This announcement is further recognition that New Jersey is using our federal transportation dollars effectively,” Murphy said in a release. “In a state as densely populated as New Jersey, our ability to maintain reliable, safe and modern infrastructure is an essential component of our interconnectivity. This funding will help ensure that we can continue to improve and strengthen New Jersey’s transportation network.”

Gutierrez-Scaccetti stressed how transportation is connected to the economy.

“The increase in federal funding for New Jersey’s transportation infrastructure is critically important to New Jersey,” she said. “These funds will allow the New Jersey Department of Transportation to get more workers out on the street, provide good jobs that help our economy and improve our roads and bridges.”

Since the start of the Murphy administration, NJDOT has received $280 million in additional funding, almost twice the amount received in the prior eight years. In three of the eight years prior to the Murphy administration, NJDOT did not receive any additional spending limit.