Keeping Corzine on track

In a rush to score some political points with Middlesex County officials and residents during a public meeting in that county, Gov. Jon Corzine made a foolish comment.

He’s not the first New Jersey politician to make a dumb statement and he certainly will not be the last.

As he’s toured the state and held a series of public meetings while trying to sell his financial restructuring and debt reduction plan, Corzine has felt the heat from overtaxed New Jerseyans who do not relish the possibility of soaring tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway.

When he spoke at Marlboro High School in Monmouth County, Corzine told people who showed up that the $900 million Monmouth County residents would pay in higher tolls over a period of time would come back to the county in the form of road projects. No one was moved to applaud the governor’s promise of largesse.

And when the governor spoke at East Brunswick High School in Middlesex County about a week later, he told his audience there that a passenger rail line would not pass through their county.

As Corzine put it, the MOM (Monmouth-Ocean-Middlesex) passenger rail line would become the MO (Monmouth-Ocean) rail line. Cute.

Upon hearing about the governor’s comments, we were stunned. Does the governor know that amultimillion-dollar study is under way to examine three possible routes – including one through Middlesex County – for a central New Jersey passenger rail line?

How can the governor say that one route is out before the results of the study are in? Corzine will likely be so far gone from Trenton by the time anyone decides where to put a passenger railroad that the words he spoke in 2008 will be as worthless as papermoney from the Confederate States of America.

A rail line may or may not eventually run through southern Middlesex County, but it will not be because a governor said yes or no. The Middlesex County government may actually have more of a say in keeping passenger rail out of the county.

Freeholders from Monmouth County and Ocean County moved quickly after learning what Corzine had promised to Middlesex County denizens and reminded him that a study is, in fact, ongoing to pick a line for the rail route.

NJ Transit confirmed that the Middlesex County route is still under consideration.

In the end, the governor’s spokeswoman said his promise to ban the train from Middlesex County was his opinion.

The governor is trying to solve significant financial problems in the Garden State that were created by legislators and governors who went for instant gratification and did not think about the longterm effects of their actions.

Then he goes for instant gratification by telling Middlesex County residents and officials that their county is safe from passenger rail – neglecting to consider that such a transportation project might solve some of the Garden State’s problems in the long run.

Do you get the feeling that we are doomed to repeat history?