Senate President Stephen Sweeney
Deputy Speaker John Burzichelli
Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro

NJBIZ – Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation (Senate Bill 876/Assembly Bill 607) to improve the efficiency and costs of Transportation Trust Fund projects and to create a research center in the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

The bill’s sponsors – Assemblymen Anthony Bucco, R-25th District, and Hal Wirths, R-24th District – said the new law will reduce delays in planning and bidding, and save money.

“This legislation will broaden the impact of trust fund spending and provide significant savings for our taxpayers well into the future,” Bucco said in a statement. “If we are going to improve our failing infrastructure, the state must do a better job with the TTF money.”

Fellow sponsor New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-3rd District, agreed the law will expedite the process for the administration and oversight of Transportation Trust Fund projects and to establish a transportation research center.

“This law will revise the process by which capital projects are authorized and administered through the Transportation Trust Fund,” Sweeney said in a press release. “It will facilitate the timely contracting and completion of capital projects by allowing third-party engineering consultants to ensure that contractors are completing projects on time and within budget. This will make the construction and repair of vital transportation projects more efficient and more effective. We want to put people to work and get the projects done in a timely manner so that improvements to our roads, bridges and other transportation facilities are made as quickly as possible.”

The creation of the New Jersey Transportation Research Center could enable the state to qualify for additional federal capital program funding for transportation research, Sweeney said.

Bucco and Wirths said a critical element of the TTF is federal matching dollars, which the law maximizes by creating a DOT research center that will award grants to state universities to conduct research. The grants will secure funding from the federal University Transportation Centers Program and influence best practices.