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Are Stimulus Funds Being Misused for New Jersey Roads?

Today on the Streetsblog Network, we hear about the possible misuse of stimulus funds for the widening of the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike in New Jersey. Network member blog Mobilizing the Region, the voice of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, reports that the TSTC has sent a letter to Gov. John Corzine about the matter:

widened_turnpike.jpgTSTC wrote to Governor Corzine stating that using federal Build America Bonds -- authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- to pay for the expansion of the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway would violate federal law. The Build America Bonds were authorized by the federal stimulus package, and offer government subsidies on interest rate costs....

Projects that receive federal funding must receive federal environmental approval.  Neither the Turnpike nor the Garden State Parkway expansions have undergone federal environmental review. Therefore, neither are eligiblefor federal funding.  Until now, both were slated to receive only state funding, so the cursory state environmental review was all that the law required.

The warnings were not heeded by the Authority. This afternoon, the agency released the bond offerings, totaling $1.375 billion.

This recent move again calls into question the legality of the projects. TSTC already has a lawsuit pending over the Garden State Parkway widening.

Other news from around the network: St. Louis Urban Workshop reports on the results of a study showing the devastating health impact of highways in cities; Twin Cities Streets for People links to some articles about just how our cities became so car-centric to begin with; and Bike Portland has the story of how Portland's cash-strapped government is asking the public to help fund the city's car-free "Sunday Parkways" events.

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