Highway robbery? Bill seeks probe of New Jersey road costs

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Why does New Jersey spend more on its highway system than any other state?

On the heels of reports by New Jersey Watchdog, a state senator is introducing legislation Monday to create a task force to address that question.

“When we’re spending two or three times more per mile than any other state, it’s extremely likely that significant savings can be found by the task force,” said Sen. Mike Doherty, R-Washington Township, the bill’s sponsor.

New Jersey pays in excess of $2 million a mile per year — more than 12 times higher than the national average — to maintain 3,338 miles of state-administered roads, according to a Reason Foundation study.

State transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox responded by calling the study “inaccurate and unfair” in a column published by NJ.com. However, Fox did not offer alternative figures, nor did he dispute that New Jersey has the costliest roads in the country.

“Some may quibble over how much more New Jersey spends on our highways than other states, but nobody disputes that we do spend more than everyone else,” said Doherty. “With New Jersey drivers already shouldering such a heavy tax and toll burden, it’s imperative that we find out why millions we spend on our roads get us so little in return.”

That weight will only get heavier if lawmakers pass a proposed 25-cents a gallon hike in the state gas tax. According to its proponents, the state must to raise $2 billion a year to fund its transportation projects.

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