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Study: New Jersey Roads, Bridges Not As Bad As Assumed

A sign directing drivers to the New Jersey Turnpike - Ridgefield Park, NJ - May 5, 2008 - Photo: Paul Murnane / WCBS 880

A sign directing drivers to the New Jersey Turnpike (credit: Paul Murnane / WCBS 880)

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NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – New Jersey’s bridges and roads — and the country’s — may be in better shape than we think, according to a new study for a 20-year period ending in 2008.

The study by the Reason Foundation was based on seven categories: poor pavement conditions on interstate highways and rural interstates, urban congestion, deficient bridges, highway fatalities, rural primary roads in poor condition and the number of rural primary roads flagged as too narrow.

New Jersey highways improved in five key areas, but urban interstate and rural arterial road conditions deteriorated, according to the study.

EXTRA: Click Here To Read The Study

The Reason Foundation found that the percentage of bridges across the country deemed deficient dropped from about 38 percent to about 24 percent nationally. In the Garden State, the percentage fell slightly, from 28.5 percent to 27.4 percent.

“There are still plenty of problems to fix, but our roads and bridges aren’t crumbling,” said David Hartgen, lead author of the report. “The overall condition of the state-controlled road system is getting better and you can actually make the case that it has never been in better shape. The key going forward is to target spending where it will do the most good.”

However, big rig drivers in the Garden State disagreed, telling 1010 WINS reporter John Montone the roads are covered with potholes and the bridges haven’t improved.

“The roads suck,” one truck driver said. “They’re not doing anything to repair them, they’re doing the junk-patch jobs and the bridges are just as bad. There’s bridges you go over and you can feel them moving as you’re going across them.”

“All the bridges are old, they all need to be redone,” another driver said.

“I’m seeing potholes at a bigger rate, I’m seeing my tires getting chewed up, more damage on my truck from hitting these bridges that aren’t lined up properly, it’s ridiculous,” another driver said.

Another trucker said states are only doing quick patch up jobs instead of full repairs which create worse traffic jams on the roads.

Despite the criticism of New Jersey roads, most truckers at the Vince Lombardi service area on the New Jersey Turnpike agreed the worst road in the country is the Cross Bronx Expressway in New York.

One driver said it’s worse than the notorious “Malfunction Junction” — a mountain road in Tennessee that is often littered with broken down trucks.

“It’s just horrible, I’ve gotta get new alignment done almost every time I come out here,” he said.

New York improved its highways in only three categories — urban congestion decreased, the number of deficient bridges was reduced and the fatality rate dropped.

Highway fatality rates dropped in all 50 states. In New Jersey, fatalities fell from 1.49 per 100 million vehicle miles in 1989 to 0.8 in 2008.

The study’s lead author tells The Star-Ledger of Newark that spending per mile on roads grew by 60 percent during the 20-year period, but that future spending must be targeted to be effective.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)