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 eligible
for 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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While we’ve been focusing on the stimulus action in Washington this week, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign has kept an eye on the region’s state DOTs, which will dispense billions for transportation infrastructure. On Wednesday Tri-State filed suit to prevent the New Jersey Turnpike Authority from widening the Garden State Parkway, a project the agency intends […]

Senate Requires Environmental Approval For Stimulus Projects

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NEPA oversight should prevent the Garden State Parkway from being widened using stimulus funds. The final draft of the Senate’s economic recovery bill will require all projects funded by the stimulus to have approval under the National Environmental Protection Act, or NEPA. Sponsored by Barbara Boxer, the NEPA amendment (full text after the jump) was […]

How Urban Areas Get Stiffed on Transportation Spending

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Today on the Streetsblog Network, a post from Aaron Renn on New Geography about the anti-urban bias in transportation spending. Renn points out that when it comes to the amount of taxes they contribute and the amount of funds they get back from the government, the nation’s cities all too often get the short end […]

Why Stimulus Money Should Go to Cities, Not States

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I spoke earlier today to David Burwell, a co-founder of the Surface Transportation Policy Project who is currently a strategic consultant with the Transportation for America campaign, about how the stimulus package is shaping up for transportation projects, why it might go wrong, and what can be done to set it on the right track. […]

Tell Congress: Don’t Waste Money on Highway Expansion

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States should know better than to funnel more money into road expansion at the expense of maintenance. With President-elect Obama back in Washington, action is heating up again around the economic recovery package, which could total up to $850 billion over the next two years. As much as $100 billion may be at stake for […]