Tag Archive: transportation

Gina Genovese

It was fitting that we chose Princeton as the site for an interview with independent gubernatorial candidate Gina Genovese. After all, the consolidation of Princeton Township and Princeton Borough in 2013 is a success story that is unfortunately all too…
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What’s Your Trump Era Top 5?

I’ve been thinking about that scene in Forrest Gump when he runs back and forth across the country for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours. He gains a following. People find purpose in what he’s doing. He’s peppered with questions…
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Hudson River Rail Tunnel Project Chugging Along With A Schumer Boost

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) took the lead on the new Hudson tunnel project Monday, proposing that a new entity, the Gateway Development Corporation, manage the construction of two new rail tunnels under the Hudson River.

Officials from Amtrak and US Department of Transportation (USDOT) have endorsed the idea as a means to access different federal funds available.

While Governor Chris Christie has recently supported the project despite past reluctance, Governor Cuomo of New York remains reluctant to pony up the cash.

Even though this has been a problem for a while, it’s gotten worse in recent years. Given that the tunnels are 105 years old, this isn’t surprising.

Have corporations worked for New York transportation projects before?

The question regarding a new entity created solely to build a tunnel is how long will it last?

For 40 years, Robert Moses controlled an independent fiefdom of unaccountable corporations in New York. Some entities Moses created to build highways were supposed to be temporary until the debt incurred from construction was paid off by tools. But he found a way to never pay off the debt by diverting the money elsewhere and keeping the corporations alive.

Moses was no fan of public transportation and most of his projects came at their expense.

Hopefully history won’t repeat itself.

What’s the deal with Schumer and the Senate?

While Schumer sits on the Senate Banking Committee which has jurisdiction over mass transit, he’s never championed the issue.

He’s set to become the new Senate Democratic Leader in 2017, following the retirement of Harry Reid (D-Nev.). If the Democrats take back the Senate, he’d be Majority Leader. If not, he’d be Minority Leader.

As Democratic Leader, Reid blocked nuclear waste from being dumped in Yucca Mountain in Nevada, a site sacred to some Native Americans. It was designated a site for waste throughout the country years ago but Reid ended such notions.

In a similar vein, Schumer’s pet projects will likely see a boost. It was once said that the most dangerous place in Washington was between Chuck Schumer and a camera. But given the deficit in the federal Highway Trust Fund as well as New Jersey’s trust fund, even with Schumer’s leadership, this could take years.

Why is building the tunnel complicated?

The problem is that like the Freedom Tower’s construction, there are too many entities involved: the Governor of New York, the Governor of New Jersey, NJ Transit, the Mayor of New York, Port Authority, Congress, Amtrak, the president and his administration, and any private firms hired.

The Gateway project designed by Amtrak would cost around $15 billion. According to Amtrak, 80 percent of the cost would be covered by the federal government with 20 percent would come from the two states.

What’s with the deal with Schumer and New York?

The state of New York is bigger than postcards would have you believe. There’s a massive disconnect between New York City, its suburbs, and the rest of New York, which can be very rural or the poster child for post-industrial problems.

And Schumer, despite being a stereotypical Brooklynite, has worked hard at courting upstate. He’s spent time at understanding their problems, perhaps at the expense of the population centered two hours from Times Square.

How does presidential politics affect the Hudson River rail tunnel?

The tunnel is more likely to be built if a Democrat is elected president than a Republican. With Christie’s modest poll numbers, he’s unlikely to win the nomination, barring a game change. He could be an interesting VP or Attorney General pick, so he’d still be out earlier than normal. If he gets nothing and remains governor, he might go along with a deal if it looks good.

All the Democrats running presumably support the tunnel.

Read more of my insight at http://danulloasusa.blogspot.com/

When Politicians Play with our Cars and Trains

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) recently announced that if elected president, he would build the tunnel from New York to New Jersey he canceled in 2010.

Christie claimed that New York wasn’t going to pay its share while the feds were ready to spend stimulus money for their share. When the tunnel was canceled, the Governor of New York was David Paterson, a man who was better at being Lieutenant Governor. Had Christie waited until Andrew Cuomo was inaugurated as Governor, he could have made a better deal.

But that means Christie would have been guilty of helping Obama fix the economy using federal revenue. Since he’s been planning to appeal to Republican primary voters for six years that was a non-starter.

That’s what makes his statement so interesting. Now that Christie’s shenanigans have cost him frontrunner status, he needs to say something out of left field to get publicity.

He could say that five years ago the tunnel was in fine shape but now that it’s 105 years old, it needs to be replaced.

But those following the issue (and found this blog) know that the state’s infrastructure has been in shambles for a while. Many of its roads are full of potholes. Rush hour in New Jersey is an arduous trek due to the high level of congestion on roads that were not designed to have their maintenance neglected.

They say it’s better elsewhere

At the same time, a survey of members of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce say the New Jersey’s inadequate infrastructure is hurting the its economy. The Chamber of Commerce is no liberal band of hippie activists and academics. On the contrary, its members are executives of prominent corporations.

The survey is interesting since it says that executives are unhappy about the deterioration of all of New Jersey’s infrastructure: roads, bridges, tunnels, and mass transit. Usually you’d expect them to ignore the condition of mass transit.

“It’s the lifeblood of New Jersey. It’s the foundation of our economy,” said Tom Bracken, President of the Chamber of Commerce to NJ Spotlight.

What’s your point?

This is all the more galling when you realize that New Jersey has a higher unemployment rate than neighboring states. Thus, addressing the infrastructure situation should be a no-brainer if the Chamber along with unions, academics, think tanks, and other seemingly progressive groups think it would help.

Part of the reason that New Jersey has such a poor infrastructure is that it has the second lowest state gas tax. It stands to reason it should be raised.

Taxes?! Not Taxes!

Granted New Jersey already has high taxes, especially property taxes. But that’s another issue to be addressed later. Adding a few cents is not going to break the bank if it helps improve the state’s economy.

But with Christie running for president, we’ll have to wait at least a year if not until a new Governor is inaugurated in 2018 for infrastructure to really be addressed.

What’s the deal with Congress and transportation?

Congress has started playing with transportation funding again. While some Senators might want to fund transportation, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), another 2016 contender, wants to gum up the works with an abortion funding amendment.

And the House of Representatives has no interest in playing ball, as per usual. Because even a slight cut for a few months is a victory for them and a defeat for the millions trying to go to work.

But it’s likely that a deal will be made to keep funding at its current inadequate level for a few months until the game begins again.

Unfortunately, the transportation lobby has lost its firepower. It’s one thing for the Big Three and their friends to lobby for cutting public transportation and bike lanes funding. It’s another thing when they can’t get the money to fix the highways and bridges for cars.

A fully-funded transportation bill would lead to an increase in mass transit ridership as well build more bike lanes and sidewalks. This would lead to a reduction in traffic which would improve our air quality and overall health.

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Suburban Sprawl: Our defining feature and biggest challenge

Sprawl. Burbs. Little municipalities by the hundreds. They define New Jersey. Does they have to, going forward? Promoted by Rosi.

Everyone who’s ever driven through New Jersey has seen it. Town after town, subdivision after subdivision of vinyl-sided, single-family housing. It is one of the hallmark features of the Garden State along with our shore towns and Bruce Springsteen. Having grown up in the 20th century with the popularity of the automobile, it provided shelter for a booming post-World War II population and the millions of children born to it. But the American dream our suburbs helped to fulfill have become something of a nightmare. And as the problems that plague these towns get worse, they threaten to undermine the viability of the entire state.