Bill Forcing South Jersey Representative on Turnpike Authority Passes State Senate

Feb 15, 2017

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority is the state agency responsible for maintaining not only the turnpike, but the Garden State Parkway as well. Both toll roads run from the northern part of the state to the south, with the GSP, appropriately enough considering its name, stretching the entire length of the Garden State. It would seem to make sense for the eight-person Turnpike Authority Board of Commissioners to have some representatives from the southern part of New Jersey.

The members of New Jersey’s 9th Legislative District delegation, state Sen. Christopher J. Connors, Assemblyman Brian E. Rumpf and Assemblywoman DiAnne C. Gove, certainly think so. But currently that is not the case.

On Monday, a bill sponsored by Connors requiring at least one member of the authority to be from South Jersey cleared a major hurdle to becoming law when the Senate passed it. A companion measure sponsored by Rumpf and Gove is awaiting action by the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee. Both would require at least one member of the turnpike authority to be a resident of Ocean, Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Gloucester or Salem county.

“Requiring South Jersey representation on the Turnpike Authority,” read a statement released by the delegation following the Senate’s approval, “would provide the strong voice that our area of the state has been missing for too long. Having a representative from the southern end of the state is only sensible and fair when considering that such a large segment of the Garden State Parkway runs through our area of the state.

“Local residents are tired of the backroom political gamesmanship that favor one area of the state over another. This particular issue draws the ire of many of our constituents after having been targeted by the (former Gov. Jon) Corzine toll hikes years back. The powers that be saw fit to impose toll hikes on these commuters but, in typical Trenton fashion, have shown no interest in providing these toll payers with any representation on the Turnpike Authority.

“Consistent with our efforts in fighting for representation on the Turnpike Authority, we are also sponsoring legislation to require that at least two regular meetings of the Turnpike Authority be held in the Ocean-Atlantic-Cape May area. Local residents would have the opportunity to engage the decision-making process involving infrastructure projects in their area as the legislation requires meetings to be rotated among those counties.”

However, the companion bill in the Assembly for the just-passed bill in the Senate may meet with opposition. In July 2016, a Connors-sponsored bill forcing turnpike authority meetings in South Jersey passed in the Senate, but a similar bill has since gone nowhere in the Assembly. —R.M.

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