Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday announced a four-year $300 million renovation of New Jersey’s deteriorating 18th-century Statehouse, casting the restoration as a top legacy item as he heads into his final year in office.
Christie called six decades of degradation since the last upgrade “shameful” and said there were numerous code violations and missing fire sprinklers and heating and air-conditioning ducts.
“To leave the Statehouse in this condition is an embarrassment,” Christie said. “And quite frankly it’s shameful.”
Parts of the New Jersey Statehouse date to 1792. It’s the second-oldest continuously operated state capitol in the country, after Maryland, which Christie said inspired him to pursue renovations after his friend and fellow Republican, Gov. Larry Hogan, gave him a recent tour.
Christie said part of the New Jersey building is in danger of sinking into the ground and crushing computer servers. Paint is cracking off exterior walls, windows have had to be strapped in for fear of falling out and flammable materials have been found in the attic, Christie said.
Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean Jr. called the restoration a “good thing.” Richard Codey, a Democratic state senator and former governor, said he supports renovation efforts but cautioned they should be done in a “cost-conscious” manner.
Christie declined to answer questions in the Statehouse rotunda and hasn’t faced the state’s press corps since early September, before trial began for two of his former allies in the 2013 lane-closure scandal. Since then, he has appeared on his regular radio call-in show to answer residents’ questions and did a national interview with Charlie Rose.