MADISON – The last few weeks have been trying times for Democrats – inaction in Washington and a surprisingly tough New Jersey election.
Phil Murphy survived, but Republicans made gains in the Legislature.
The party needs a bit of good news and it will get some today when President Biden signs a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. The bill includes money for the long awaited – and long delayed – Gateway Tunnel.
This prompted Rep. Mikie Sherrill to visit the local train station last Friday afternoon for a combination roundtable discussion and celebration.
The “Rose City” station is genuinely historic, but a dimly-lighted train depot may not have been the best place for a party. No matter. It had to do.
Those joining the congresswoman included Mayor Bob Conley, commuters from Madison and adjacent Chatham and local business owners.
The stories were familiar, but that didn’t make them less significant.
With rail lines in and out of Manhattan depending on two aging tunnels, delays are common. Tha means commuters can miss an early morning meeting in the office or their child’s Little League game in the evening.
Advocates say new tunnels will ease the backlog that causes delays. That will help not only commuters, but local businesses and the real estate market, both of which benefit from reliable train service.
“For too long, New Jerseyans have suffered hellish commutes that have been inefficient, unreliable, and unsafe,” Sherrill said. “Funding the nation’s most critical infrastructure project, the Gateway Tunnel, will create jobs right here in New Jersey and help lower our carbon emissions — this bipartisan infrastructure package is a major win for NJ-11 families.”
Developing a new rail tunnel under the Hudson was most recently proposed by the Obama Administration, but then-Gov. Chris Christie killed it,
But the issue never went away and has become over the last 10 years or so, a very bipartisan goal.
It is instructive that the infrastructure bill was backed by New Jersey’s two Republican House members – Chris Smith and Jeff Van Drew.
The problem for House Democrats was that the infrastructure bill got tangled up in internal party politics. While the Senate passed it in August, the House didn’t pass it until Nov. 5., three days after the election.
Clearly, the inability of Dems to pass a bill to fix roads and bridges had to have some effect on the electorate.
Sherrill was more interested in talking about the positive.
She said it’s truly a rare event these days for a major bill to have bipartisan support.
That’s a fair point.
While most Republicans opposed the bill, it drew 19 GOP supporters in the Senate and 13 in the House.