NEWARK — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy on Thursday called for increased cooperation with New Jersey’s federal delegation to mitigate issues caused by ongoing repairs to decades-old rail infrastructure and to push for federal focus on transit projects including a new sub-Hudson River Tunnel.
At Thursday’s press conference –held at the busy Newark Broad Street Station– Murphy was joined by mayors from three transit-reliant towns: Tim Dougherty from Morristown, Ras Baraka from Newark, and Sheena Collum from South Orange. The three mayors all advocated for the new tunnel project, known as Gateway, that would connect New Jersey to New York. On Tuesday, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11) committed $900 million in federal funding to the project. According to Murphy and the mayors, continued cooperation with New Jersey’s congressional delegation is critical to commuter relief.
“Among other things, we need the governor of this state to work closely with our federal delegation to find the money to fund the projects we desperately need,” Murphy said. The candidate blasted a 2010 decision made by Gov. Chris Christie to halt construction of rail tunnel –the ARC project– into New York. According to early estimates, that plan would now be nearing completion.
On Monday, the first day of the so-called “Summer of Hell” for New York City commuters, Republican gubernatorial candidate Kim Guadagano unveiled her transit plan. Guadagno’s plan would create a new funding formula for transpiration and eliminate a four-member panel that currently oversees transportation. Guadagno plans to audit New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund and divert taxes paid in New York by New Jersey residents to help fund projects in New Jersey. Murphy said that Guadagno’s transit plan is too little, too late for New Jersey commuters.
“When you have been a co-leader in the state for over seven years, it is a little bit late to start standing up with ideas that would help our transportation infrastructure,” he said. “I would have loved to hear those ideas in 2010. I would have loved to hear the lieutenant governor oppose the governor on the cancellation of the ARC tunnel.”
Guadagno plans to audit New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund and divert taxes paid in New York by New Jersey residents to help fund projects in New Jersey.
Murphy proposed an audit of capital and personnel for NJ Transit to determine the “true needs of the agency.” But he said that Guadagno’s plan to deviate tax revenue from New York was a “pie in the sky idea.”
“I think it is like asking the Mexicans to pay for the wall,” Murphy said. “I would be open to it but I don’t know how New York would be open to it.”
While NJ Transit repairs will last through summer, the four days since the repairs began have not been as severe as early predictions suggested.