State Director, Environment New Jersey
State Director, Environment New Jersey
Trenton – Without advising the public, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority is now projecting that the cost to replace and expand the 8.1 mile Newark Bay Hudson County Expansion will be $10.7 billion, $6 billion more than the NJTA said the project will cost, the EmpowerNJ and the Turnpike Trap coalition has learned.
In 2021, the NJTA projected that the cost of the project would be $4.7 billion. Opponents of the project had repeatedly claimed that it would cost far more and called on NJTA to provide real updated numbers.
NJTA never did that. But buried within the minutes of the October 25, 2022 NJTA Board meeting was the NJTA’s 2023 annual budget. And buried within that budget was NJTA’s projection that the Project would now cost $10.7 billion. A screenshot of the relevant page is attached.
“The ill-conceived Turnpike expansion made no sense when its projected cost was $4.7 billion: it will increase carbon emissions, pollution and traffic congestion; prevent needed improvements to public transportation and unduly burden environmental communities. The revelation that it will now cost $10.7 billion should be the death knell for a project that no one other than the special interests want. The existing bridge and highways can be made safe and structurally sound for less than one twentieth of the replacement cost. If Governor Murphy cares at all about the environment and fiscal responsibility, he must immediately halt this project,”said John Reichman, EmpowerNJ.
The expanded Turnpike will still dead-end at the Holland Tunnel access roads so traffic congestion won’t ease and all the additional vehicle traffic from the expanded highways will simply clog local Jersey City streets. NJTA has not even conducted a traffic study showing the impact on Jersey City streets despite already spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the project. The NJTA has refused all attempts by Jersey City officials or any group to have any substantive discussions about their plans.
“It looks like Thanksgiving is coming early for the Turnpike Extension. The NJTA’s FY23 budget projects the cost of the Extension expansion — which runs through the heart of Jersey City — is more than doubling to $10.7 billion. This was already a disaster for Jersey City — now this Turnpike Extension budget ballooning deserves a spot in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “There are now more than 10 billion reasons why the expansion of the Turnpike Extension is an awful idea. This doubling of the cost of the expansion should alone be reason to cancel this project. The Turnpike expansion is fiscally irresponsible, flies in the face of our climate goals, will bring more traffic to Jersey City, will increase pollution, will take money away from needed infrastructure projects and won’t even accomplish its purported purpose of easing traffic congestion. NJTA’s posture is my way or the highway. Gov. Murphy needs to drop his support of this project — expansion of the Turnpike Extension will be a disaster for Jersey City residents and highway robbery.”
Members and supporters of The Turnpike Trap Coalition, a coalition of more than 20 community, neighborhood and environmental groups based in Jersey City and EmpowerNJ will be attending the November 22, 2022 9:00 am NJTA Board meeting to demand an immediate halt to the Project.
“This project is bad for the climate, bad for our health, and bad for the safety of our city streets. Among environmental justice impacts, highways increase risks for asthma and cognition problems, with children and teenagers especially vulnerable. Now we learn it’s going to cost over a billion dollars a mile for this? Follow the science. Build mass transit and for the economy of the future instead,” said Jimmy Lee, President, SafeStreets JC.
There was already tremendous and growing opposition to the project before it was known that the project would cost $6 billion more than anticipated. The Jersey City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing the Expansion. So did the Hoboken City Council. Mayor Fulop opposes the project as does a vast majority of Jersey City residents. Despite this opposition, Governor Murphy has given his support for the project last month without addressing, much less rebutting, any of the reasons cited above demonstrating that the project makes no sense.
“Governor Murphy’s Turnpike expansion makes no sense and would be a disaster for Jersey City and the entire region, even putting aside its $10.7 billion cost. This special interest boondoggle is a lose-lose-lose proposition in every respect,” said Rob Howley, parent and Jersey City resident.
“Our neighborhood is located between Exit 14C and the Holland Tunnel. Like most neighborhoods in Jersey City, we are considered an overburdened community under the New Jersey Environmental Justice Law. We oppose widening the Turnpike extension because the induced demand and ensuing bottleneck would worsen congestion and air pollution in our community, hurting our health and our quality of life,” said Eleana Little, former Harsimus Cove Association President.
“The Turnpike expansion plan is not the answer for Jersey City. It is the pinnacle of inefficiency.
You do not fix a bottleneck by widening the bottle, when you are left with the same neck. Satellite navigation software already diverts massive amounts of traffic off of the bridge, and the infrastructure downtown is ill equipped to handle an influx of more cars using local streets to circumvent the extension approach,” said Eric Hofmann, Village Neighborhood Association President.
“As a parent, I oppose this now $10 billion plusbillion plan to add lanes in order to expand the NJ Turnpike Eextension. This structure extends over the Mary Benson field and playground where the estimated 680 children that attend PS5 spend their recess every day. Our community has already had to deal with lead paint raining down onto the playground during a repair project to the extension in recent years. I am concerned that thiIs project will bring back those dangerous conditions to the playground and surrounding areas. The children in urban areas have an increased exposure to pollutants and this plan will further impact their health and safety in a negative way. Furthermore the expansion does nothing for improving access to NYC. The funds should be spent on more effective transportation solutions,” said Catherine McElroy, PS5 PTA President.
“Widening the turnpike will have only negative impacts on the safety and health of our local community. Hudson County already has an F-Rating from the American Lung Association for air quality, with evidence showing that living within a quarter mile of highways increases risk of asthma, COPD, and dementia. Brake and Tire dust, which also come from EVs, make up most of PM2.5, the most harmful particulate matter. The turnpike also spits out high speed traffic into local streets, causing serious injuries and death on our local roads. We have low income communities, schools, and residential areas directly adjacent to the turnpike, and Gov. Murphy and the NJTA are going to be complicit in the health detriments of a widening project,” said Tyler Newcomb, Jersey City EMT.