Just Another Seven Days in the Garden State

Image: Cyndy Sims Parr/Flickr

In numerology, the number seven is “the seeker, the thinker, the searcher of the Truth… seven doesn’t take anything at face value.” If you’ve been following transportation news in New Jersey, you probably shouldn’t either. The last seven days have been packed with the passage of new legislation, new developments surrounding the deadly crash at Hoboken Terminal, plus a couple of major announcements. Here are just seven events that occurred in the last seven days:

  • Last Friday, the New Jersey Legislature approved a pair of bills to reauthorize the Transportation Trust Fund and to raise the state gas tax by 23-cents, the first increase since 1988, while cutting other unrelated taxes.
  • On October 12, credit rating firm Moody’s called Governor Christie’s “tax fairness” plan “credit negative” and warned of budget consequences in years to come. With $1.2 billion in new revenue offset by $1.4 billion in cuts, it’s hard to argue to the contrary.
  • The following day, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a preliminary report detailing the facts gathered so far in their investigation of the Hoboken crash.
  • And earlier this week at the NJ Transit Board of Directors’ first meeting since June, agency veteran Steve Santoro was named executive director. Santoro’s appointment comes almost 11 months after former director Ronnie Hakim announced she would step down to take a position with the MTA.
  • Senate Bill 59, which would add two public members (one regular rail rider and one regular bus rider) to NJ Transit’s Board of Directors, got favorable marks from the Senate Transportation Committee. It now awaits a vote in the full senate before heading to the assembly.
  • In Bridgegate news, a Bergen County judge ruled Thursday that there is probable cause to believe that Governor Christie had engaged in official misconduct. It will be up to the Bergen County prosecutor’s office to seek an indictment against the governor.
  • And today — though technically it would be the eighth day of a whirlwind week — Tri-State, along with Senate President Steven Sweeney and Senator Robert Gordon gathered at the Trenton Transit Center for a press conference where they called on U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to fulfill NJ Transit’s $10 million request for the installation of positive train control on NJ Transit and announced a special Senate Legislative Oversight Committee hearing next Friday to begin probing the transit agency. Meanwhile, Secretary Foxx was at Penn Station (along with U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, among others) to announce that the Gateway Tunnel project will have an expedited environmental review thanks to its inclusion on the President’s Permitting Dashboard.

Who knows what the next seven days will bring? Governor Christie signs the gas tax bill into law? The feds pony up cash for PTC? Another downgrade for the state’s credit rating? A senate vote on S59? Stay tuned.