How the ARC Cancellation Affects Atlantic City

Actions always have consequences. The ARC cancellation abounds in them. In my article before this one I described the development of a fast train and rail line to Atlantic City and Cape May. It would be via Penn Station-Hoboken-Newark-Red Bank-Atlantic City-Cape May and it could change the future of Atlantic City and southeastern New Jersey for the better.

However, there is a problem which I did not mention yesterday: The rail tubes under the Hudson may not have the capacity to admit those new express trains to southern New Jersey. That could rule out Penn Station as the starting point. The Hoboken station, I believe, is simply a transit station and does not have a size for becoming the starting point of a new line.

That makes Cape May the next best candidate for a central rail station. But a rail line  serving the entire length of the New Jersey shore should have a very accessible point for residents of the state on start. Cape May is too south. Both Hoboken and Newark  are too east and lack sufficient parking. For most residents of Northern New Jersey trying to reach the shore, the Garden State Parkway would still be the means of choice.

Enter Xanadu: The mall that nobody cares for with the exception of governor Christie.

It is centrally located. It has abundant parking. The building, although odd-looking, is already there. Connecting it to the NJT Bergen County Line should be short work (about 3 miles) and from there on it would follow the already existing track through Red Bank when it would deviate onto its own new track bordering the GSP. The express would be reduced to convoy speed on shared tracks but once it left Red Bank I figure it could reach AC in less than one hour.

I as an example, living in Hopatcong, NW New Jersey, could hop in my car, drive 45 minutes to Xanadu, park there, catch the train and be in Cape May in about 1 hour and 30 minutes. NYC residents could catch that train at Hoboken but in their case it would involve changing trains.

And Xanadu could still have its mall. But this time it would have many more visitors.

Plans like this are what developing the state means. It makes the state more desirable to live in. And that includes investors and entrepreneurs. It also means jobs and more demand for goods and services.

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The Revel of Atlantic City

Of course I hope the Revel is a great success and Atlantic City prospers. It is for that reason I have enclosed the website of the hotel casino below; sort of free publicity. Nonetheless, I had predicted that one new casino, however glamorous, will not change the equation much. But I would be honestly glad if I am found wrong in this one.

Revel – Home.

My posting on the subject of Atlantic City of March 12 – https://newjersey2013.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/reviving-atlantic-city/ – left a vacuum in the area of access infrastructure which I had not had time to think about. The missing element in transportation appears to be rail and that is what I propose.

New Jersey Transit rail only reaches Bay Head from the north. Bay Head is about 4 miles south of Point Pleasant. Then Atlantic City has rail service  from Penn Station via Trenton and Philadelphia; a rather awkward combination if one just wants to go to Atlantic City for a day or two from NYC or northern New Jersey, where most people live.  There is no direct service in a bearing north-south connecting northern New Jersey to southern New Jersey.

My plan is simple: Using existing line from NYC Penn, one stop at Hoboken, one stop at Newark, and then the train proceeds using existing coast line to Red Bank where it makes the last stop on existing track. From then on, a new track must be laid on the right-of-way of the Garden State Parkway – to minimize the need of purchasing land – and the train proceeds non-stop to Atlantic City, and then with one last stop at Cape May. The connection with NJT rail service from northern and northwestern New Jersey would be at Hoboken.

We could even use a high velocity train if the old track up to the Red Bank junction is up to it. The building of the new rail line would be a source of good construction jobs and the rail would make the Jersey Shore more appealing to all year-round visiting.

I would have the State negotiate with the casinos to seek their financial support of this endeavor.

Reviving Atlantic City

Atlantic City casino revenue drops 6 percent in February; blackjack whiz takes Trop for another $2 million – pressofAtlanticCity.com: Today’s Top Headlines.

I chose this story over one that appeared somewhere else because it is the AC newspaper and despite the anecdotal reference to the blackjack guru, it offers more detail about the dilemma AC is facing. I will also incorporate some testimony of friends and family members who like AC. I, personally, find gambling boring and can count with my fingers the times I have played poker in 60 years of existence. The other article that appeared during the weekend is below:

Warm weather brings no wonder to Atlantic City earnings | NJ.com.

Atlantic City faces several challenges: Competition, poor infrastructure for access, a belt of poverty surrounding the casino district, general neglect, and not much to do in town except for gambling itself. I have anecdotal info about crime, beggars, prostitution, etc., but all that has come to me from individuals; not the media. I recall having been in AC twice in my 32 years in New Jersey and both times I had to go for reasons other than the casinos. To figure out where things are, I have to look at a map of the city or reach for Google Earth.

The Christie administration has placed most if not all of its hopes for AC in the new Revel which is scheduled to open soon. Of course I wish it all will work out well and that AC will be already on the road to recovery if I am elected governor of New Jersey in November 2013. It would be one less problem.

Just in case that does not happen, this is what I intend to propose to the Legislature to rescue what was once our jewel on the seashore. Keep in mind that these are proposals and not all may fly with the N.J. Legislature and part of the public. We will adopt what passes but the following I consider fundamental steps to make Atlantic City unique in the nation:

1 The beaches or at least a good portion of the beach in front of the hotels must be declared clothing-optional (CO). It does not mean that one has to be naked but the choice would be there. The only other CO public beach in New Jersey is in Sandy Hook, on federal territory. Same as in SH, alcohol should be allowed on the beaches.

2. Prostitution: It is already there (and everywhere) so we may as well legalise it in a limited district near the casinos with the following conditions: Sex-workers must be in a house, must be tested regularly for STD, and have at all times an updated medical affidavit of health in the form of a card. Sex-workers must not operate in the streets.

3. I already have proposed the legalisation of marijuana statewide. It may be more appropriate to call it the decriminalisation of marijuana by the State of New Jersey; the U.S. DEA will still chase everybody. So it is not pertinent to speak of decriminalising marijuana in Atlantic City because it would be legal everywhere in N.J. But if the Legislature cringes at the idea of decriminalising marijuana statewide – their blunder in my opinion – then I would settle for doing it in AC only.

4. I do not know if AC has a curfew. If it does, it must be abolished. Police presence must be commensurate with needs.

5. We have to improve the infrastructure of access but I am not able to offer more details at this point. Same goes for the airport which is, I believe, about 9 miles away.

This is still work in progress and I am very open, as always, to suggestions and criticism.

Atlantic City: Christie Placing All Eggs in One Basket

Atlantic City Set For Big Wins Or Huge Losses In 2012.

The new casino, the Revel, is scheduled to open early this year, May 15 to be exact although it could be fast-tracked to an earlier date. All the hopes are on the new $2.4 billion giant. But the big question is whether the Revel will draw customers away from as far as Pennsylvania and New York or will simply siphon business from its neighbors on the Boardwalk.

The governor is upbeat. This is one of his pet projects. But realism is not one of the fortes of this administration. The objective conditions under which Atlantic City will operate in 2012 will be the same as in 2011 – except for the Revel. Is the one new casino sufficient to have a permanent and upward effect on the declining fortunes of AC? I hope so but I can’t help doubting it.

The objective conditions that have not changed are the New Jersey economy (dismal), the out-of-state competition (fierce), and Atlantic City itself. One element has worsened: The main roads to access Atlantic City are toll roads and the cost of travelling through them has just been increased. It is not much but it could also be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for some.

Atlantic City must become an attractive destination, despite the casinos, and it must be rethought in a manner that attracts the right clientele. I am all for family and wholesome settings but young couples with little children do not fit the prototype of gamblers.

The tolls must be removed from the roads, Turnpike and Garden State Parkway. The local airport may need expansion. The beach must be put to work (I have talked about that in other articles and in the Atlantic City page). Perhaps the cost of liquor licenses must be lowered to a minimum. Relax smoking rules. Security must be reassuring. AC must do everything that Vegas does and more.

But the governor is in a bind: He aspires to enter the national scene – in fact he may be just using New Jersey as a springboard – and he would not risk breaking with the ultra conservatives in the GOP. Atlantic City is a sin city; it can not prosper unless it becomes bold, forward, unabashed.

Not Christie.