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(29th LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT) – Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Chairman Albert Coutinho (D-Essex) on Tuesday welcomed Gov. Chris Christie’s focus on the Bayonne Bridge clearance problem and job creation, especially considering New Jersey’s continued high unemployment rate.
New figures out Tuesday showed New Jersey’s unemployment rate at 9.6 percent, with total employment essentially unchanged. New Jersey’s jobless rate continues to be higher than neighboring states Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania.
“Many people have long recognized the Bayonne Bridge’s vital role as a job creation engine, and have been working to fix this problem for a long time,” Coutinho said. “I hope Gov. Christie continues focusing more on job creation, especially for working class New Jerseyans suffering under his de facto tax increases.”
The Bayonne Bridge is too low to allow new super-sized cargo ships to reach Port Newark and Port Elizabeth.
After holding a full hearing on the issue with industry leaders earlier this year, Coutinho sponsored a legislative resolution urging officials to quickly address the concerns. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey then authorized spending up to a $1 billion to address the problem.
Coutinho noted the ports provide more than 270,000 jobs, but he said 50,000 jobs could be lost if the bridge problem isn’t fixed expeditiously.
“I am extremely gratified that this agreement will lead to saving those jobs, but we must follow through and get this job done, not toy around with the money and make mistakes as we’ve seen the administration do with other projects,” Coutinho said. “I cannot emphasize enough that we must get this fix done for the good of our economy and our workers.”