A bill proposing greater access to New Jersey Turnpike Authority meetings for southern New Jersey residents unanimously passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee and is now scheduled to go for a vote before the full Senate, according to a New Jersey Senate release issued Monday, Oct. 15.
Bill S-1686, co-sponsored by Sen. Christopher J. Connors and Sen. Jeff Van Drew, calls for at least two meetings each year in Atlantic, Cape May or Ocean counties. Currently, the monthly meetings are held in Woodbridge, in Middlesex County.
Connors and Van Drew are also co-sponsoring bill S-1654, calling for at least one representative on the Authority's Board of Commissioners to hail from southern New Jersey. There is currently a vacancy on the board, which Connors has requested be filled by a representative from the southern portion of the state.
The issue has taken center stage due to a pair of projects the New Jersey Turnpike Authority has taken on in the southern portion of the state, including the mass cutting of trees along the Garden State Parkway and the installation of security fencing the authority said was needed for Homeland Security reasons.
Galloway residents also have particular interest in the Authority bringing two or three full interchanges to the Garden State Parkway in the township, as well as the relocation of a state police barracks into the township.
“The Turnpike Authority commissioners make decisions that significantly affect the residents of South Jersey, yet when the board discusses and votes on these important matters they do it in a board room more than 100 miles away,” Van Drew said in the release. “Having two meetings a year in a location that is more easily accessible will allow people living in this region to voice their concerns about any proposed or ongoing projects. Hopefully, the board will take up issues related to South Jersey during these meetings to allow for input from those who would be most impacted. This will better ensure that our toll dollars are spent wisely and in the interest of local residents.”
“I, along with my 9th District Legislative Colleagues Assemblyman Rumpf and Assemblywoman Gove, strongly support having Turnpike Authority meetings held in South Jersey on a consistent basis to allow local residents to have greater input on transportation issues that directly affect them on a daily basis,” Connors said in the release. “It’s not surprising that this bipartisan legislation has tremendous support among our constituency, particularly in Galloway Township, where the Turnpike Authority will be undertaking two interchange improvement projects at Garden State Parkway Exits 41 and 44.”
The bill passed out of the Transportation Committee by a vote of 5-0.