Jersey City, one of the few bright stars in New Jersey’s employment recovery, is in danger of being strangled by the state’s transportation crisis.
The city on the Hudson River waterfront accounted for 10 percent of the state’s job growth in the past year. It has lured residential development and companies like JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Fidelity Investments, and outpaced the state and nation in reducing joblessness. Mayor Steven Fulop expects Jersey City to surpass Newark as the state’s most populous municipality in 2016.
He’s not so sure, though, that New Jersey’s rails and roads can handle the influx. A new commuter-rail tunnel into Manhattan is at least a decade away. The existing ones are vexed by repairs and delays. Governor Chris Christie’s calls for fiscal restraint are threatening the growth of cities like Fulop’s that are dependent on public transportation.
“Jersey City’s success has largely been correlated to investment in mass transit,” said Fulop, a Democrat. “Trenton’s lack of a plan has really had and could potentially have a devastating impact.”
His 14-square-mile (36 kilometer) community of 257,300, one train stop from Manhattan, has lured financial firms in the past decade, earning the nickname Wall Street West. Fulop, 38, who worked at Citigroup Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., quit Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.’s trading desk to run for mayor and took office in 2013.
Millions of dollars in tax incentives have persuaded companies to move to Jersey City. New York Life Insurance Inc. received $33.9 million over 10 years from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to bring 625 jobs to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s waterfront building, itself the recipient of a 20-year tax break. JPMorgan secured about $188 million in tax benefits over 10 years, according to filings with the development authority.