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Worries About Stalled Highway Construction If Federal Fund Goes Bankrupt

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PARSIPPANY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – The Highway Trust Fund provides money for federal bridge, transit and roadway projects. But it could go broke in a week if Congress does not reach a deal, CBS 2’s Matt Kozar reported, which could impact major highway projects across New Jersey and in the surrounding areas.

The New Jersey town of Parsippany is where 287 intersects with I-80.

“I do get a lot of complaints about I-80,” Mayor James Barbiero said.

Barbiero is relying on federal dollars to fix part of the interstate, Kozar reported.

“I’ve had meetings with corporations who come to my office about the roads and route 80 and say, ‘Listen, these roads are atrocious. We want to move out if we don’t get [the roads] fixed,’” Barbiero said.

New Jersey could lose more than 23,000 jobs and 1,300 projects could be halted if the fund goes bankrupt, delaying construction like the one going on along I-80.

As CBS 2 reported, United States Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx joined senators Robert Menendez and Corey Booker in Parsippany on Friday to pressure Congress, which is considering a temporary funding fix.

“If this patch passes, it will be only for 10 months and it will expire right as next year’s construction season begins,” Foxx said.

Sen. Menendez prefers closing corporate loopholes to fill the coffers. Others have suggested raising the gas tax, which is unlikely to pass Congress.

When asked if is colleagues are receptive to raising the gas tax, Sen. Menendez responded, “Yes I do think,  if it’s dedicated, if it can’t be used for other purposes.”

Motorist like Ricky Mitchell echoed what all drivers told CBS 2: no more taxes. He says he wouldn’t pay more at the pump, even though he just spent $1,500 to fix his tires.

“I had to get new tires because I ran over a pothole,” Mitchell said.

For now, the construction equipment fixing those potholes is moving, but the gears could grind to a halt if Congress can’t reach a deal.

The I-80 construction project is slated to be finished in early 2015.

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