Should NJ spend billions to fix its transportation infrastructure?
Anyone in New Jersey who travels to work by car or mass transit is well aware the region’s transportation network is old and overburdened.
The Natural Resources Defense Council is out with a new report that stresses the need to improve public transit, reduce congestion and pollution, and make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
According to the report, investing in a transportation “makeover” now would not only reduce congestion and climate change, but would also create economic opportunities in so-called “green” industries and improve the health of millions affected by pollution from vehicle emissions.
Specifically the NRDC report calls for upgrading public transit systems, expanding the use of electric vehicles, promoting the development of living zones that are walking and cycling friendly, and addressing what are termed low-income communities that are disadvantaged when it comes to their transportation needs.
“We do have to invest more in our transportation," said Bruce Ho, the author of the report and a senior climate and clean energy advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council, during a telephone press conference on Thursday. "Unless we commit to building modern infrastructure and to deploying clean vehicles we’re not going to get all the benefits that we should and that we need.”
According to Ho, developing a cleaner transportation in New Jersey and across the region would reduce gasoline consumption dramatically, which would save more than $100 billion over the next 17 years.
“Lowering traffic congestion to speed up travel by just 1 mile per hour would provide nearly $19 billion a year in regional benefits, from time savings, reduced fuel use and lower costs of doing business.”
He pointed out transportation is responsible for 52 percent of carbon pollution in New Jersey.
The report focuses on transportation needs in New Jersey as well as Washington, D.C., Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont — all members of the Transportation and Climate Initiative, which has worked to address clean transportation solutions since 2010.