Your daily commute has gotten worse in NJ, but why?
Is your commute longer, more dangerous and expensive than it used to be? If you answered yes, you’re not alone.
According to AAA’s biannual report to the New Jersey Legislature, 45 percent of motorists believe their commute has gotten worse. Since 2011, the "worse" rankings have risen from 33 percent to an all-time high of 45 percent in 2015.
“Motorists in Central Jersey and those traveling the local roads and state highways are mostly likely to rate their commutes have having gotten worse,” said Cathleen Lewis, director of public affairs for AAA Northeast, during a news conference at the State House.
She said when drivers were asked about road conditions, the toll roads and federal highways got the highest rankings, and “local roadways fared worse of all - 31 percent ranked them as poor, up from 23 in 2014, and nearly doubled since 2003 - and 40 percent of respondents rated their local roadways as fair.”
Lewis said 35,000 miles of local roadways in New Jersey are vital arteries for motorists every single day, because they carry 55 percent of all traffic in the Garden State.
“Commuters know that local roadways are crumbling and are making their commutes longer, it’s clear commuters are feeling the effects of years of neglect,” she said.
AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Tracy Noble said it’s no secret New Jersey commuters feel their commutes have been getting worse over the past few years, and their worsening commute translates to more money and a poorer quality of life.
“Pot holes and deteriorating roads do not discriminate, they hit all New Jersey motorists right in their wallet,” she said.
Noble sai over the past several years AAA’s emergency roadside assistance has fielded upwards of 50,000 tire-related calls as the result of potholes on New Jersey roadways.
“Costs for repairing damage caused by potholes can range from $50 for a simple wheel alignment to $600 for more expensive tires and wheels,” she said.
In addition, she said you could also incur costs of up to $2,500 for steering components and vehicle suspension that could be damaged.
So what’s the solution to the problem?
State Senate President Steve Sweeney said the NJ Transportation Trust Fund will literally go belly up in a few months, but he’s still trying to get a meeting with Gov. Chris Christie or a member of his staff to discuss a rescue plan.
“It’s getting worse, it’s not getting better. The speaker and I are ready to sit down with the governor, whether it’s him or his staff, we need to have dialogue going on now,” he said.
“Someone has to be able to sit down with us and start the process, it’s getting late in the game, it’s February, June is when we’re going to run out of money," Sweeney said.