Six N.J. State Police Troopers Earned Nearly $276K In Overtime Overseeing N.J. Turnpike Construction

The sprawling construction on the New Jersey Turnpike may be a headache for drivers snarled in traffic and facing steep toll increases, but it’s been a boon for a small group of State Police troopers overseeing the work, a Star-Ledger review of state payroll records shows.

Six of the nine troopers assigned to the squad were among the top 20 overtime earners in the division last year, and most bolstered their salaries by 50 percent or more, according to the records.

The six troopers tallied a combined $275,549 in overtime, or an average $45,924 each, records show. That was four times the average paid to troopers who earned overtime last year.

The squad’s leader earned $63,221 in overtime and $167,890 overall, topping all other troopers, including Superintendent Rick Fuentes, who earned $144,966, according to the payroll records.

The squad is cashing in again this year. Through September, seven of its troopers were among the top 22 overtime earners, having tallied $264,313, the records show. With about $50,000 in overtime, the squad leader is again on pace to earn more than any other trooper.

The overtime is ultimately paid by the Turnpike Authority and commuters, who face a 53 percent toll increase on Jan. 1 to help pay for a decade-long, $7 billion capital program to widen the Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, and to pay for dozens of other improvement projects. The increase is the second since 2008, when Turnpike tolls rose 40 percent.

A State Police spokesman, Lt. Stephen Jones, said the division closely monitors overtime and reviews schedules to reduce costs as much as possible. He said only a handful of troopers are trained for construction zones on the Turnpike, and with the immense amount of work being done, the extra pay was a “necessary expense to take care of business.”

“There’s a limited pool of troopers to draw from, and we can’t afford to take troopers from other assignments and assign them to that unit at this point,” Jones said.

Tom Feeney, a spokesman for the Turnpike Authority, which reimburses the State Police for patrolling the highway, said the division does “an excellent job” controlling costs and that it reduced its budget for manning the Turnpike and the Parkway by $1.3 million in 2012 compared with 2010.

“The amount they’ve spent on overtime has been in line with our expectations and seems entirely appropriate,” Feeney said. “Any discussion of who makes how much or how it compares to what others make seems very much beside the point.” More in Star Ledger.

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  1. To – pushy guy who wrote “it doesnt cost bilions to widen a road unles the mafia controls it”

    It DOES if you factor in the “prevailing wage” which MUST BE PAID in NJ and also who gets the contracts. In Ohio they just resurfaced Route 22, a major highway, in Gernsey County (about 16 miles) for $6 million. Out there they use company flagmen, not high paid state police, to control the traffic. And they do not have “prevailing wage”.

    U.S. 22/40 Resurfacing with Lighting and Signal Enhancements–
    This project consists of the resurfacing of US 22/40 from its intersection with 5th Street in the City of Cambridge, continuing through the downtown area and following US 40 out to the IR 77 interchange. Various enhancements in downtown Cambridge include lighting and signal upgrades, decorative sidewalks, new park benches and trash receptacles.

    I wonder how much this would cost in NJ?

  2. This OT counts toward their pensions, so I bet all the members on the squad are near retirement. They will get inflated salary earnings so that the pension they receive when they retire will be based on, and guess who pays for this, WE do.

  3. Maybe you should look up the cost of asphalt then factor how thick it has to be then add it to the amount of miles that are being worked on. I would bet that cost is in the 100’s of millions alone not including all the other work that goes into a job that large. You clearly have no idea what anything costs.

  4. To #5
    I bet that when you do figure the cost of the asphalt you will find it is the cheapest part of the project. The rest goes into the planning, politics, studies, labour and contractor pockets, especially in NJ where the Democrats love to give away our tax money to their union friends.

  5. maybe the troopers wouldnt be needed to protect the workers and make sure the road during construction is safe IF EVERYONE WOULD STAY OFF THE CELL PHONE

  6. I don’t understand why it is news that some people are working overtime.
    If we would have flag men controlling the traffic on the GSP or Turnpike we would have more tax money going to lawsuits (because of the flagmens icomptence to deal with such intense highways) then the overtime we pay to people who are competent and are making a honest living.
    Also overtime and getting alot of overtime is very common in all unionized jobs out there.

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