Experts warn that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s decision to shutdown the state’s road and bridge construction projects financed by the Transportation Trust Fund could have a negative impact on the state. NJ.com reports that an industry leader indicated that it could add 10% to the total cost of the projects.
By midnight on Friday, $246.57 million in state Department of Transportation construction projects and maintenance work, funded by the TTF, will be closed down.
Contractors will be forced to decide whether to pack up their equipment at the job site, which will result in the loss of more money. Simply moving the equipment could add 10% to a project’s bottom line.
One of the critical projects that would close down is the replacement of an 1,100 foot long, eight-lane elevated section of roadway. It carries Route 495 over Routes 1 and 9 and Paterson Plank Road and has a $61 million price tag. The shutdown consists of the first $4.9 million part of that work to install video traffic signs.
Christie’s decision to shutdown the construction projects has thousands of employees in the construction industry fearing for their jobs. Considering that the United States construction industry employs over 7.8 million people, the effect could be devastating to local households.
Last Tuesday, the State Assembly voted to raise the New Jersey gas tax by 23 cents, but the State Senate left without voting on it. As a result, thousands of road, bridge, and rail construction workers were left wondering their employment status.
“The feeling around the union halls is anxiety right now. People are scared and wondering if they’re gonna have a job. They fear that call coming in that says, don’t show up to work today,” said Rob Lewandowski, a spokesman for N.J. Laborers Union.
To make matters worse, this is all happening during the peak season in construction.
The Senate is not due to meet again until July 11.