the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, New Jersey, July 10, 2019– Garden State motorists are not seeing the effects to the state’s roads and bridges from recent rate gas tax hikes, according to a joint survey from the Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825. Despite increases of more than 27 cents a gallon total since 2016, a third of all adults say the quality and safety of New Jersey’s roads, bridges, and tunnels is getting worse. In addition, a third have experienced car damage as the result of potholes or other road imperfections in the past year.
The FDU Poll and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825 asked New Jersey adults a series of questions about their experiences on New Jersey’s roads and bridges. Relatively few say things are getting better. Sixteen percent say the quality of the state’s roads, bridges, and tunnels has improved, and fifteen percent believe their safety is better today. Around half say their quality (47%) and safety (50%) remains the same. The remainder say things are getting worse. Thirty-five percent believe the quality of New Jersey’s roads, bridges, and tunnels have deteriorated, and 30 percent believe these vital pieces of the state’s infrastructure are becoming less safe.
“New Jersey commuters are being taxed more with the expectation that they will see meaningful improvement to their commutes. Recently the American Society of Civil Engineers gave New Jersey infrastructure a grade of D and it is clear to the public that improvements aren’t happening,” said Gregory Lalevee, Business Manager, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825.
The condition of the state’s roads, bridges and tunnels is hurting many motorists in the pocketbook. Almost four-in-ten report damage to their cars in the past twelve months from potholes or other road imperfections. About half (53%) did not experience similar damage.
“More needs to be done now,” said Lalevee. “The importance of our state’s roads, bridges, and tunnels is a bipartisan, economic issue. The time is now to seize upon this issue devoid of partisanship and move projects quickly.”
Almost three-quarters (70%) rate the state’s roads, bridges, and tunnels with the highest degree of importance to the local economy. However, similar numbers (63%) believe the government is not doing enough to maintain them. Majorities of both Democrats (69%) and Republicans (68%) believe infrastructure is very important to New Jersey’s economy, and majorities of those on the opposite side of the aisle also agree the state is not doing enough (57 and 72 percent, respectively).
When it comes to how to pay for road, bridge, and tunnel improvements, few say the state needs to raise more money. Instead, 83 percent believe legislators should do a better job spending what they already have. Unfortunately, however, there is not a lot of trust among the public for legislators when it comes to spending the gas tax money for its intended purpose. A third (34%) place no trust in government on this issue, with a quarter (28%) who extend “just a little” trust to policymakers. Barely a third (36%) say they have “some” or “a lot” of trust in legislators to spend the money the right way.
“Although Democrats are, on balance, more likely to trust those in government who allocate gas tax money than Republicans, and also believe that more money is needed to repair and maintain our state’s infrastructure, majorities on both sides want policymakers to earn their trust by doing a better job with what commuters already give them,” said Krista Jenkins, director of the poll and professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
“Voters passed a constitutional amendment to ensure gas taxes were dedicated to transportation projects. State transportation officials are charged with carrying out the voters’ will and it is safe to say right now commuters would give these officials a failing grade,” said Lalavee.