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July 11, 2016

Trade group analysis: N.J. transportation project shutdown carries $41M price tag in first week

Christie action sidelines 1,700 workers

An analysis published Monday finds that the first week of the transportation project shutdown in New Jersey that began Friday will carry a cost of at least $41 million to the construction industry and state taxpayers.

The report, prepared by Dr. Alison Premo Black, chief economist with the american Road & Transportation Builders Association, a Washington-based trade group, indicates that the action by Gov. Chris Christie will displace as many as 1,700 construction workers – about nine percent of all such workers in the state – in the first week. As the shutdown continues, that cost could grow to as much as $1.3 million per day in lost sales, wages and economic activity in the state, and impact another 1,500 non-construction jobs, the analysis concluded.

When the state senate failed to approve a 159-percent increase in the state gasoline tax – and a corresponding one percent decrease in the sales tax – to fund the state's Transportation Trust Fund, Christie issued an executive order late Thursday halting all state and municipal roadwork for at least seven days. The TTF's borrowing authority expired on July 1.

According to the New Jersey Department of Transportation, 904 projects valued at $650 million are subject to the shutdown. Projects that receive federal funds can continue. One local project, the $9 million resurfacing of Route 70 in Cherry Hill, was halted due to the governor's action.

“There are no winners in this situation,” Black wrote in her report. “Important transportation projects that are designed to improve safety and reduce traffic congestion will come to a grinding halt. Workers will be sidelined and lose wages. It’s a recipe for market chaos.”

In announcing the shutdown order, Christie blamed the state senate.

"The Senate’s inaction ... ignored New Jersey’s necessary transportation infrastructure improvements, as well as the hundreds of private-sector workers who came to Trenton today with their jobs hanging in the balance, because the Senate failed to re-authorize this Transportation Trust,” Christie said in a statement.