Jersey City Freeholder Bill O’Dea (D-2) said that it was “ludicrous” for Gov. Chris Christie (R) to shut down road projects paid for by Transportation Trust Fund “to make some kind of a ridiculous statement.”
The Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders unanimously passed a measure (7-0) urging state lawmakers to “reauthorize the Transportation Trust Fund with stable, dependable and sufficient sources of funding to increase Local Aid allocations.”
Similar to the discussion about adding the pension referendum to the November 8 ballot, Freeholders Gerard Balmir (D-3), O’Dea and Anthony Romano (D-5) were vocal on the subject.
“When you look, in history, at any government that doesn’t invest in their infrastructure, the support, the needs of their residents, cease to exist,” explained Balmir. “We’re at a critical point where we have to understand what funding the Transportation Trust Fund means.”
Balmir further stated that potholes, traffic and the constructions workers that have lost out on jobs as a result of the TTF freeze should motivate lawmakers to resolve this issue – noting that “elected officials should not make the Transportation Trust Fund a political football.”
O’Dea told those in attendance to think about every time construction equipment is sitting idly on a road, with construction workers out of work, is “because politics is being played by the governor and others down in Trenton is totally unacceptable.”
At the end of June, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) spearheaded a TTF plan that would increase the gas tax by 23 cents per gallon and eliminate the estate tax by 2018.
The plan was backed by Christie, but the matter remains unresolved as Prieto and state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) introduced a $16 billion compromise last month that will likely not have the governor’s support.
Specifically, O’Dea voiced displeasure over the handling of the Pulaski Skyway and Bayonne Bridge repair projects, exclaiming that Communipaw Avenue and Route 440 – both main roadways in his district – becoming “a parking lot” as a result of the abundant closures.
“We just need to get this done and to stop that to make some kind of a ridiculous statement I think was ludicrous on the part of the governor,” O’Dea doubled down.
In regards to Hoboken, Romano expressed great dissatisfaction in the current state of the Mile Square City roads.
“In regards to the roads, outside of the county streets, Hoboken streets are a third world country. Washington Street is simply a pure disgrace and vehicles [are] being damaged every day … the Transportation Trust Fund needs to be supported.”
Brian Murray, a spokesman for Christie’s office, said the state Senate deserves the blame for any issues caused by the TTF freeze
“There are two things to understand. The Senate stalled a TTF funding plan that was adopted by the Assembly and endorsed by the Governor last month,” Murray said in an email.
“The Governor had proposed a significant plan for tax fairness, one that included a reduced sales tax and retirement income tax cuts to offset any increase that was being proposed for the gas tax to fund the TTF. The Assembly overwhelmingly approved that plan. We are now waiting on the Democrat Senate.”
Murray added that with no new TTF plan in sight, the TTF funds will likely be completely depleted by the middle of this month, which is why Christie is allocating the remaining funds towards emergency road work projects that need to be completed for safety reasons.
Last month, Hudson County View exclusively reported that 21 roadway projects were shut down due to the governor’s TTF freeze.
Days before that, North Bergen Freeholder Anthony Vainieri (D-8) made headlines for calling Christie “a fat bully” for shutting down road improvement projects, including one in James J. Braddock Park – which is part of Vainieri’s district.