The Democrat challenging state Sen. Anthony M. Bucco in LD-25 is being accused of torpedoing a road project “intended to save lives.”
So says the campaign arm of Senate Republicans in an assault fired this week at candidate Jeff Grayzel.
LD-25, a traditionally Republican district, has become more competitive of late. The GOP’s registration lead is now only about 3,000.
Grayzel is also the mayor of Morris Township, which is quite relevant to the topic at hand.
This saga revolves around a congested interchange where Route 24 East meets Columbia Turnpike, Many drivers taking that exit bear right and then left on Park Avenue, which leads to downtown Madison and other attractions, including the New York Jets’ training complex. The problem is there is a very short distance between the exit and the left turn, requiring drivers to very quickly – and sometimes dangerously – cross three lanes of traffic.
Plans to fix the problem by relocating the exit further east have been around for some time. The many municipalities in the vicinity – among them Florham Park, Hanover, Morris Township and the Chathams – all have been asked for input on the proposal.
This brings us to the Morris County Commissioners who have been working with the office of Rep. Mikie Sherrill to secure federal funds for the project – at least $7 million.
That effort just hit a roadblock and the commissioners have identified a culprit – Morris Township.
A statement issued Thursday by the county thanks some of the other towns and Sherrill for their support, but also announces “an indefinite delay in moving forward because the unique opportunity to secure that federal aid, specifically for preliminary engineering, design and right of way acquisition phases, was lost last week.”
“Regrettably, Morris Township refused to provide a letter of support last week that was crucial to our efforts to secure federal aid through Congress. The window of opportunity has since closed.”
Fixing roads is probably the most basic function of government and one that can be outside the realm of partisan politics. As the old saying goes, there is not a Republican or Democratic way to fill a pothole.
But just for the record, let’s unpack the politics here.
The county government in Morris County is all-Republican. As are the impacted towns of Florham Park and Hanover.
But Sherrill is a Democrat and Dems also have a majority in Morris Township and both Chathams.
And to complete the puzzle, Grayzel as mentioned is the Democratic candidate for Senate.
Simple politics may not be the driving force here, but it also can’t be ignored.
In correspondence to the county, Grayzel says, “Securing federal funding is one way to look at it. Wasting taxpayer dollars on a suboptimal solution is another way to look at it. My personal view is the latter.”
Grayzel goes on to say that he’s unhappy that overall development of the Park Avenue corridor has been mishandled and that his township’s opinion on the proposal was not given enough consideration.
He also wonders a bit darkly about what went on “behind the scenes.”
In response, John Bonanni, the county administrator, notes that the proposal is the preferred plan of the state DOT and that Grayzel has fallen into the trap of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. And he said nothing went on “behind the scenes.”
Clearly, there are nuances and details in the proposal; most construction does tend to be complicated.
But the politics here is simple.
And Republicans, who are well aware of how competitive LD-25 has become, think they have a good issue.
The GOP’s take on Thursday was that Grayzel’s Senate campaign is “off to a rough start.”
Could be, but the finish is what counts.