A new report by a transportation advocacy group finds the New Jersey Department of Transportation is backsliding on its commitment to its Fix it First campaign.

Janna Chernetz, the New Jersey advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign says, “Right now, we have over 50 percent of our roads in deficient condition – and over 200 bridges that are structurally deficient.  We should be investing more in maintenance…We’re spending too much money on road new capacity and projects- these projects are unsustainable transportation investments.”

She says a review of DOT projects finds “we’re spending more money on unsustainable transportation investments and back-sliding on our commitment to Fix it First…We need to be spending money wisely,and there needs to be legislative oversight as to how the DOT is spending their money.”

Chernetz adds mass transit “is only making up 31 percent of DOT expenditures.  Eight years ago, almost half of the DOT’s capital program budget was allocated for mass transit …So if we’re spending less on transit that means more delays, more over-crowding on buses and trains, and not getting people to where they need to be on time.”

When asked specifically which projects the Tri-State Transportation Campaign is opposed to, she says, “Tri-State is really not taking a position on the projects…There’s the direct-connect, the Route 1 bottle-neck project and North Avenue Corridor improvements -it’s more of the principal that we’re spending a lot of money on a small amount of projects- and these are large projects…We think not all widening is bad, but widening roads do not offer long-term solutions to congestion, because eventually these roads will fill up with cars again and lead us right back to the same problem that we started with.”

Joe Dee, a spokesman for the DOT, says, “The evidence does not support what Tri-State is suggesting.  We are focusing our resources on State of Good Repair and Safety projects – improving road and bridge conditions.  Oour goal is to continue this level of investment.  Tri-State refers to the Route 295 project as an expansion project, but this is simply not so.  The highway is one of the 10 worst in terms of crashes.  This project is about safety and operational improvements.”