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Are Stimulus Funds Being Misused for NJ Highways

8:22 AM PDT on April 21, 2009

Today on the Streetsblog Network,
we hear about the possible misuse of stimulus funds for the widening of
the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike in New Jersey. Network
member blog Mobilizing the Region,
the voice of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, reports that the
TSTC has sent a letter to Gov. John Corzine about the matter:

widened_turnpike.jpgTSTCwrote to Governor Corzine stating that using federal Build AmericaBonds -- authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- topay for the expansion of the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden StateParkway would violate federal law. The Build America Bonds wereauthorized by the federal stimulus package, and offer governmentsubsidies on interest rate costs....

Projects that receive federal funding must receive federal environmental approval. Neither the Turnpike nor the Garden State Parkway expansions haveundergone federal environmental review. Therefore, neither are eligiblefor federal funding.  Until now, both were slated to receive only statefunding, so the cursory state environmental review was all that the lawrequired.

The warnings were not heeded by the Authority. This afternoon, the agency released the bond offerings, totaling $1.375 billion.

This recent move again calls into question the legality of the projects. TSTC already has a lawsuit pending over the Garden State Parkway widening.

Other news from around the network: St. Louis Urban Workshop reports on the results of a study showing the devastating health impact of highways in cities; Twin Cities Streets for People links to some articles about just how our cities became so car-centric to begin with; and Bike Portland
has the story of how Portland's cash-strapped government is asking the
public to help fund the city's car-free "Sunday Parkways" events.

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