By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
A throng of media showed up in case this was an announcement about a new future for Chris Christie.
Instead, the governor announced a complete renovation of the State House — $300 million worth over four years, exterior and interior.
Christie said he paid a visit this year to the Maryland State House and that’s what convinced him the time was now in Trenton.
“When I toured the State House that day, I had two thoughts. The first one was how truly extraordinary that State House is, what an incredible experience it is for anyone who comes to visit it. The second thought I had was, what would I think if Gov. Hogan came here?” Christie said.
Maryland has the oldest continuously operating State House in America.
New Jersey has the second oldest, built in 1792.
It’s been renovated 17 times but not since 1958, and according to Christie it’s falling apart.
It doesn’t have sprinklers or fire suppression.
“We have ADA violations all over the place, we have code violations throughout the place. We have combustible materials in the attic and all throughout the building that could lead to a tragedy,” Christie said.
He said windows are falling, chimneys deteriorating, a third of the building without heat or air conditioning.
“The office of the counsel to the governor next to my office is sinking into the ground and is in danger in the next two years of collapsing into the ground and crushing everything that’s beneath it. What’s beneath it? All of the computer servers,” he said.
He called it a safety issue for workers and visitors like schoolchildren.
“They should not have to worry about a chimney coming down or a cornice coming off the edge of the building,” he said.
Christie said the Economic Development Authority will provide the financing.
This July the governor and all executive branch State House workers will move into makeshift quarters elsewhere in Trenton for four years.
The Assembly and Senate chambers will be functional, but not the front wing of the building.
Security will ultimately be moved outside, so a potential bomber can’t detonate anything within the building.
The state building at 135 West Hanover St. across from the State House will become part of the renovation.
“A lot of change will happen here, and it will be disorienting for some,” Christie said.
When it’s done, Christie said, it will be a late 1800s jewel.
“And I’m hopeful to come back here in four years from now and see a State House that we can be just as proud of as Gov. Hogan is proud of the State House that he occupies every day in the state of Maryland,” he said.
Christie poked fun at the media for their interest in today’s event.
“From some of the reaction I got that I was having a press conference, you thought maybe I was announcing something else. Appreciate all of you being here for the State House renovation. It’s really wonderful,” he said.
And he repeated what he’s been saying lately about resigning before his terms ends to join the Trump administration.
“I am telling you that I am completing my term. Now, I will also tell you that if something extraordinary happens in the world where my service is needed I will consider any request that is made,” Christie said.