So far, so good with efforts to minimize disruptions caused by major track repairs at New York Penn Station, Gov. Chris Christie said.

Speaking with reporters in Gladstone after announcing a Route 206 road repair being funded through the Transportation Trust Fund, Christie said there are certainly delays and issues for rail commuters but that the first week of the Penn Station track shutdowns went well, all things considered.

“I don’t think you’ve seen the kind of thing that (New York) Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo predicted,” said Christie. “You know, I’m going to smack him for the ‘summer of hell’ comment. I mean, we should be more disciplined than that.”

“And so while none of it’s fun, it’s certainly not nearly as bad as people predicted it would be – so far,” Christie said. “Now, that’s one week. We got seven weeks to go. So I’m not sitting here doing a victory lap.”

Christie said New Jersey Transit deserves credit for being proactive in explaining travel alternatives to commuters and that there’s been great cooperation from the PATH and ferries. He said the steep cut in fares on the Morris & Essex Line also helps.

“When people see a two-thirds decrease in their fares and free rides on the PATH and free rides on the ferries, that helps them in terms of saying, ‘OK, I’m taking a little longer but for the next two months, I’m going to have more money in my pocket because of it,” Christie said.

Amtrak owns the Penn Station tracks that New Jersey pays to use for its cross-Hudson trains. The state threatened to withhold payments after years of frustration about delays turned treacherous with train derailments.

Amtrak will take much of this summer to conduct extensive work on long-neglected tracks that can only be fixed if they’re unavailable for longer periods than a typical overnight repair.

“And let’s remember this: After the eight weeks, those tracks are going to be in much better shape, and so what they have at the end of it will be a better and more reliable and timely commute,” Christie said.

Christie was in Gladstone to draw attention to a project starting next month that will upgrade an 8-mile stretch of Route 206 between Bedminster and Chester Borough. That pavement preservation and other work on Route 46 in Warren County and Route 208 in Bergen County will cost a total of $6 million.

The governor flew to the event by helicopter from the state-owned beach house in Island Beach State Park. Though he has come under criticism for it, Christie says he will continue to use the State Police helicopter when he believes it’s the safest, most appropriate way to go and helps him manage his time.

“This is one of the ways that as governor in a state like this you manage your time. And you also keep yourself and the State Police who protect you every day safe,” Christie said.

“I am not going to willingly, for political reasons, be engaged in an accident like Governor Corzine was, which nearly killed him,” he said.

In 2007, then-Gov. Jon Corzine was critically injured in a motorcade accident on the Garden State Parkway. Christie said he uses the helicopter less often that recommended by a commission formed following that crash.

New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at

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