Statement of Senator Jon S. Corzine
At the Environment and Public Works Committee Hearing:
“Transportation Planning and Smart Growth”
May 15, 2002
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding these continuing hearings on the reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century – TEA-21, and I’d like to join you in welcoming our witnesses.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to discuss the current transportation planning program. Both the ISTEA and TEA-21 legislation have recognized how important it is for states to engage in an ongoing and extensive transportation planning process. I support this approach because I believe that it ensures that limited federal transportation dollars will be directed to the most worthy projects.
Mr. Chairman, in my own state of New Jersey, we recognized long ago that our transportation needs were much greater than the resources we had available. As the most densely populated state in the nation, New Jersey suffers severe traffic congestion. One study estimates that New Jerseyans spend nearly 50 hours a year stuck in traffic. To address this problem in the most effective way, New Jersey adopts a comprehensive planning process that requires the input from our state’s three metropolitan planning organizations as well as a wide variety of stakeholders.
This integrated approach also ensures that any transportation decisions are consistent with principles of smart growth. Smart growth involves making choices that promote redevelopment of our cities and developed areas and discourage sprawl and unnecessary consumption of open space. Since New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation, there is simply no other way to address our needs for road, bridge and rail projects than to direct those projects to where they will solve traffic problems and not create new ones.
Many of our witnesses today come from states that are similar to New Jersey in size and make-up. I look forward to hearing how they are using their federal funding to alleviate congestion and meet the principles of smart growth.
Thank you again Mr. Chairman for holding this hearing.