New Brunswick environmentalists temper Governor Phil Murphy’s boasts

Charlie Kratovil

Governor Phil Murphy boasted about improvements at the New Brunswick Train Station as part of his 2023 budget agreement, while environmentalists rallied outside .

During his speech, Murphy equated the administration of former state Senator and Mayor John Lynch, Jr. with that of Mayor James M. Cahill, who has ruled the City of New Brunswick since 1991.

Lynch, the son of another mayor and state senator, pleaded guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion in 2006, and he was sentenced to three years and three months in federal prison.

Asked to clarify his remarks praising the powerful political criminal in light of a proclaimed zero tolerance for corruption policy, Murphy said, “I made the observation that you had 44 consecutive years between Mayor Lynch and Mayor Cahill and this community is experiencing now a decades long renaissance.”

Murphy flatly responded, “No comment on that,” when questioned about Sayreville political boss Tom Pollando’s arrest on bribery and corruption charges in connection with a prostitution ring that was run out of a Sayreville strip club.

Independent New Brunswick mayoral candidate Charlie Kratovil said he told residents participating in the, “climate rally about my plans to make New Brunswick safer for pedestrians and cyclists and finally get us a reliable system of clean electric buses to connect our neighborhoods and make it easier to survive here without a car.”

Murphy has been a disappointment to many environmental advocates who supported his political ambitions.

More than a dozen leading environmental groups recently stepped up pressure on the Murphy administration to implement a proposed emergency rule that would redraw flood maps to match the bigger storms that are coming with climate change.

“These 100-year and 500-year floods are now happening less than every 10 years,” said Jennifer Coffey, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, one of the groups that signed the statement. “The climate has changed so significantly in the past few decades that our flood hazard rules and maps are significantly outdated.”

Murphy defended U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, whose federal bribery and corruption indictment ended in a hung jury,
Guadagno turned up the heat after Murphy refused to say whether Menendez should resign his seat if convicted.

Located on NJ TRANSIT’s Northeast Corridor rail line, the station will benefit from a $49 million investment toward extending and replacing passenger platforms, rehabilitating escalators and elevators, installing energy-efficient lighting, and upgrading heating and air-conditioning systems, in addition to other internal and external projects.

This investment is just one piece of the $814 million the FY2023 budget agreement is dedicating to rail station improvements through the Debt Defeasance and Prevention Fund.

The Middlesex County Improvement Authority (MCIA) will project manage the renovations of the station on behalf of the County and NJ TRANSIT, inclusive of design and construction. NJ TRANSIT will provide technical assistance, procure and manage an engineering and design firm, retain construction services, and have review and approval rights throughout the project. MCIA is currently in the process of preparing the scope for the project, which will focus on enhancements to the station and customer experience.

“Our fiscally responsible and forward-looking investments will further solidify the city’s reputation as a pivotal crossroads, not just as a geographic center point in the heart of New Jersey, but as a place where residents, students, medical professionals, and internationally renowned companies continue to congregate for generations to come,” said Murphy. “Officials at all levels of New Jersey government are working in lockstep to help the Hub City achieve its full potential as an economic powerhouse and destination. Just as importantly, our efforts are expanding access to affordable and attractive public transportation alternatives for all New Jerseyans, regardless of income or zip code.”

New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said the upgraded and enhanced New Brunswick station will be pivotal in amplifying economic activity in the heart of New Jersey.

“This revitalized station will enhance accessibility, mobility, and the customer experience for thousands of Middlesex County residents who use this station every day,” added NJ TRANSIT President & CEO Kevin S. Corbett.

“This train station is a daily reminder of our long and rich history as a transit hub,” said New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill. “These upgrades being announced today will ensure that New Brunswick will continue to be recognized as a critical component in statewide and regional transportation and will serve as the perfect complement to our world-class facilities like the Jack and Cheryl Morris Cancer Pavilion and the New Jersey Innovation and Technology Hub.”

Finally, New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO) President Christopher Paladino added that the modernization of the New Brunswick Train Station will energize the transformative development taking place directly adjacent to the Northeast Corridor, making the NJ Innovation HUB and Rutgers Cancer Institute accessible to researchers, patients, employees and visitors from Boston to Washington D.C.

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