Photographer Bob Leafe intrigued by geese taking shelter under the Route 4 bridge in Teaneck discovered something “pretty scary” – a vertical gash that extends along one of the giant pillars holding up part of the span that carries more than 100,000 vehicles each day. State Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox has ordered an immediate increase in inspections but has limited staff and funds to complete the task or to assure our safety. In the meantime unknown dangers of deteriorating structures lurk throughout our state.
“I don’t think any of us, who want to see more robust rail service, or more bus service, or better roads and bridges, will just accept the notion that we sit back and do nothing,” said John Wisniewski, Chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee on Monday. Although some legislators remain wary because of polls reflecting the public’s displeasure over a gas tax increase, the most significant roadblock is the governor.
Christie has always been vociferous about not raising taxes. However, Republican governors across the country, as a N. Y. Times article points out, are doing just that, and acting out of pragmatism in spite of their ideology. Gov. Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina, a Republican, said she would allow the state to raise its gas tax. Rick Snyder of Michigan, a Republican, has urged voters to support a ballot measure that would increase the gas tax. In South Dakota, Gov. Dennis Daugaard proposed an increase to the gas tax.
Whatever happens will require the governor’s buy-in and may result from a pre-agreement with legislative leadership. Put pressure on the governor. Send him an email, tweet (@govChristie), phone call (609-292-6000) or letter (Office of the Governor PO Box 001 Trenton, NJ 08625). Transportation and our safety are important and essential for our economic growth.
The issue is not whether we want to tax ourselves more, but whether we can accept rapid deterioration of our infrastructure and the hazards that would result from a depleted Transportation Trust Fund.