EDITORIAL: For years, Chris Christie and his wife have jetted to various locales to see his hero, Bruce Springsteen, sing songs about girls, back streets — and cars. He has admittedly sung along to “Racing in the Street,” “Thunder Road” and, of course, “Born to Run.” Nowhere in that canon is a song about a train that moves people, without fail, from home to work and back again.
NJ Gov. Christopher Christie
There’s one on the very first album that asks, “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?” But that’s as far as Bruce takes mass transit.
That’s also apparently where the governor gets off.
So instead of embracing some new material, Christie is closing up a planned train tunnel that could help relieve the state’s congested highways and boost one of New Jerseyans’ most abundant sources of income — jobs in New York City.
Digging had already begun on what would have been the nation’s biggest public works project, immediately providing 6,000 jobs — not to mention the promise of more employment options for New Jerseyans across the river.
But Christie, after agreeing to revisit his decision, is sticking to his guns and shooting down what he claimed would be billions in cost overruns for what has already turned into a $9 billion venture — a third of it pulled from federal tax coffers. It’s not going to be a reason to raise gas taxes in a densely populated state where reliance on personal vehicles is so great.
I don’t have a ‘69 Chevy with a 396, fuelie heads and a Hurst on the floor. I have a four-door Civic that’s great on gas (and that’s only cause I couldn’t afford the Prius). But whether you’re being chauffeured, like Chris, or stuck behind an SUV the size of a cruise ship, like me, the dilemma is the same: How to move people along faster, smoother.
The rich don’t have to worry. They get by just fine. The rest of us have to figure out alternate routes. And in this state, they don’t come easy.
I took my 4-year-old son for his first PATH ride recently, figuring I could save myself the troubles of exorbitant tolls and parking on a Sunday. He loved it. When I asked why, he said, “Cause it’s fast. And there’s no traffic.”
From the mouths of babes, indeed.
The two tunnels we now have from Penn Station into Jersey are about to turn 100 years old each. And they’re bursting with nearly a quarter-million riders A DAY. So how can a new tunnel cost too much when it can be built to last twice as long, if not longer, than the ones we already have?
We have a single bridge, too — one that merely dumps us onto one of the most congested thoroughfares in the world.
That thoroughfare, the Cross Bronx Expressway, was built by a man, Robert Moses, who told us all a truism that could never be denied: Build bigger roads, more roads, and you’ll get the same result: More traffic.
Build tunnels and you’ll get progress.
While businesses have suffered, and even died, in this economy, there’s one enterprise that can boast an increasing customer base: New Jersey Transit. Its clean, fast, reliable trains get people to their jobs and back home again — sometimes as close as two minutes apart — and stop only when there’s a rare emergency. They fly by my window every day, ferrying suburban dads, moms and others who depend on it to help raise their healthy, well-educated children in this North Jersey bedroom community.
The alternative, of course, is sitting on 495, or Routes 80, 4 or 95, inching into the city in the a.m. and crawling out at night. It not only takes a toll (no pun intended) on us physically and emotionally. It’s expensive.
The “Get Christie Love” train has been derailed. The working class has been thrown under the bus. Through the too many miles and the too little smiles, we still have to make a living up here, while the governor guzzles gas between Trenton and Morris County.
Tramps like us, baby, we were born to ride. If only the governor’s swelling over New Jersey’s favorite son would go down for just a little bit, the blood might return to his brain. And we might get our alternate route.
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