By David Cruz
After his survey of the Jersey Shore, the heart of the state’s $30 billion tourism industry, the vice president helicoptered to Newark Sunday, where a motorcade whisked him off to Hoboken, the center of North Jersey’s mass transit system. Biden toured the Lackawanna Terminal, which until last week had been under almost 10 feet of water, making the case for not only rebuilding, but rethinking mass transit and infrastructure.
“The tunnels going to New York, they average 100 years old,” Vice President Joe Biden said. “There’s an awful lot of work to be done.”
Accompanied by Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno and members of the New Jersey congressional delegation — including Sens. Bob Menendez and Frank Lautenberg — Biden met briefly with first responders, thanking them for their service and sacrifice. Afterwards, he talked exclusively with NJ Today.
When asked if the current administration can support a re-engineering of the New Jersey coastline, which Gov. Chris Christie said he wanted the Army Corps. of Engineers to do, Biden said, “We’d like to see where the Corps. already has the authority to re-engineer the coastline, which is a significant portion of the coast. We went down in detail to see that get funded. We’d very much like to see that. Look, and the idea of being able to re-engineer not only New Jersey’s coastline, but Delaware’s coastline, Virginia, etc., all the way along, is an essential requirement over the coming years.”
Then we were off to several stops around the city, including Benny Tudino’s Pizzeria where the vice president got a rousing Hoboken welcome.
Biden admitted getting all the funding necessary to pay for all the fixes — short- and long-term — will be tough. He said he was counting on Menendez and Lautenberg to lead that part of the fight. He promised that the Obama administration would be around, as he put it, long after the photo ops to ensure that New Jersey gets all the help it needs.
“It costs billions of dollars but as the senator, as Bob Menendez made clear, the amount of money being used now to have to respond to emergencies under the law, is actually less money it would take to re-engineer the whole coast. But first thing’s first,” Biden said. “We’d like to make sure that New Jersey gets all the help they need right now to get back on their feet.”
By the end of the day the visit started to feel very much like a campaign stop. In fact the vice president was inside having a meal, which gives you an indication of how much better this city is starting to feel.
WEB EXTRA: FULL INTERVIEW WITH JOE BIDEN