Ocean freeholders say Corzine did not play fair on MOM line
TOMS RIVER — Angry Ocean County freeholders said today Gov. Corzine put one over on them, appearing to promise $250 million in state aid to restore passenger rail service through Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties just days before he cut Middlesex out of the alignment.
“He wasn’t honest and I was not surprised. He was too careful with his words,” admitted Freeholder John P. Kelly, saying Corzine would not commit to spending the money on the MOM line when pressed at a meeting with county and local officials just prior to his Feb. 2 hearing on his plan to hike tolls 800 percent to end the state’s fiscal woes.
“It was hardball politics,” insisted Freeholder Gerry P. Little, explaining that any chance Corzine has of getting the Legislature to approve the increases on the state’s three toll roads depends on every Democratic vote.
Two state senators from Middlesex County are part of the shaky support for the toll package, Little said.
The passenger rail line is unpopular with officials in Middlesex, so Corzine switched to a route for the passenger service running to Red Bank, where commuters could connect with the North Jersey Coast Line to get to Newark and New York.
State officials said today that although what Corzine expressed was his personal preference Sunday, the Middlesex route will continue to be analyzed as one of the three in an environmental impact study because that’s required as part of the pro-cess to qualify for federal funding.
Ocean Freeholder James F. Lacey said it makes no sense to send travelers “north to go south” on passenger trains, insisting the MOM alignment connects with the main line running north and south.
“He’s in a terrible situation,” Lacey said, referring to Corzine, but added that all the studies done on the rail link’s three possible routes and a recent public opinion poll support the MOM alignment.
Kelly complained that the state will not invest in roads in the county, refusing to dualize Route 9, forcing people to use the Garden State Parkway, where tolls will soon soar.
“I don’t know what happened in a week,” said Lacey of the shift in Corzine’s perceived support for the MOM line.