Governor, Senate President, Assembly Speaker All Talk, No Action Say Irvington Officials

July 13, 2016 | Politics, Transportation
Irvington officials are upset with politicians who can't agree on how to fund the TTF.

By David Cruz

This is the place where the sidewalk ends. Literally. In Irvington, as in many towns across the state, infrastructure projects have fallen silent, the work seemingly stopped mid-shift, leaving conditions for residents to traverse at their own risk.

“We have several projects in the township of Irvington that have been stalled because of many different circumstances,” said Mayor Tony Vauss. “But what I’ve learned is that the average person in the community doesn’t care about the bickering in between or the stalling or the frustrating temper tantrums.”

Hear that Senate president, Assembly speaker, governor? This impasse on how to fund the Transportation Trust Fund is already starting to hurt and local officials who say they support their lawmakers are still running short on patience.

“It’s time to move on,” admonished Council President David Lyons. “People have to stop acting like petulant children and serve their communities.”

By now you may be aware of how we got here. The governor struck a late-night deal with the Assembly speaker last month to raise the gas tax and cut the sales tax, but the Senate president wasn’t in on it and now says his house won’t vote for it. Everybody says a deal needs to get done and that talks are somehow “ongoing”. Meanwhile the owner of a corner store says her business is down 25 percent since work stopped.

“I want them to fix it in a proper way,” complained Momotaz Choudery, owner of Discount Food Store on Lyons Avenue. “It looks ugly. I don’t understand that. It should be all even, not broken. Just fix it the way I want, and then, look at this, there’s a crack. Maybe the city comes and tells me to fix it. I didn’t break it. You break it.”

Much needed work on a bridge that spans Lyons Avenue has stopped. It’s just one of $15 million in projects in Essex County alone that are on hold.

“The people would be better served if the speaker and the president of the Senate had a proposal that they could bring to the governor that they could agree upon,” said Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, “but when you have individual deals being made, this is where things break down and you have the problems like you did with the Atlantic City bailout. This is what brings stress upon the process.”

“A lot of it has to do with the fact that the governor has been on this thing about being the president, the vice president, maybe the justice department,” added Sen. Ron Rice. “The Senate president is on this thing about being the governor. Those of us in between are about trying to fix the problems.”

But with the governor set to jump onto the national stage in one capacity or another next week and Democrats scheduled for their national convention the week after, it could be August before everyone will be in the same state at the same time, leaving project after project unfinished.