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NORTH BERGEN – For years, one of the only ways to reach this town’s industrial westside was by driving over a series of railroad tracks. And if a freight train was passing through, drivers just waited – sometimes for a long time. Some trains have more than 100 cars.
Things got better over the last decade or so when bridges were built over the tracks at Secaucus and Paterson Plank roads. But it wasn’t until Thursday that the last bridge in the group at 69th Street was completed.
That brought Gov.. Phil Murphy, other local and state muckety-mucks, and dozens of police and sheriff’s officers to the bridge for a grand opening celebration.
Mayor Nick Sacco, who is also a state senator, said work actually began on the bridge in 2008 when Jon Corzine was governor. He said the Christie years brought nothing but delay.
Murphy said his administration made completing the bridge a priority. Fixing roads and bridges, of course, is a basic tenet of government. It is also worth remembering that Hudson County is a Democratic bastion and that Sacco is seeking reelection this year as mayor.
The governor thanked state transportation officials and also took a few swipes at Republicans. He said the uncompleted bridge symbolized the Christie Administration’s indifference to the state’s infrastructure. He said it is the Murphy Administration’s job to “clean up the mess of the past.”
Murphy wasn’t forgetting about the president either. He calculated that in Tuesday’s State of the Union address,. Donald Trump spent only 70 seconds talking about improving the nation’s roads and bridges.
But on this day, there was also some political criticism coming Murphy’s way.
About a dozen or so protesters of a proposed gas-fired power plant in the Meadowlands chanted from about 100 feet away that the governor should not “gas the Meadowlands.” The plant would be built a little more than a mile north from where Thursday’s event took place.
Murphy briefly talked to the protesters before leaving. He was non-committal about the plant, saying only that all aspects are being reviewed by the Department of Environmental Protection. The politics here is intriguing.
The plant would be a ratable boost and create jobs. Yet it is being opposed by many nearby residents and officials. And as he entered his SUV, one of the protesters urged Murphy, who normally trumpets his pro-environmental policies, to be a “green governor.”