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GRAPEVINE: Agreement for American Dream

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Concerns over traffic have threatened to derail the American Dream Meadowlands project for nearly two years, but that crisis appeared to finally come to an end last week.

Exactly how that happened is still anyone's guess, but it looked to one source that dueling traffic experts for Triple Five and the Giants and Jets actually started searching for common ground.

"I think that the professionals finally got themselves on the same page as far as traffic, rather than one trying to prove the other was wrong," the source said.

That common ground could include something the teams had sought for nearly a decade: an expansion of the access lanes between MetLife Stadium and the surrounding highways, the source said. No one from the teams, Triple Five or Gov. Chris Christie's office offered specifics about those improvements when the settlement was first announced March 12, but a press release from the governor said this:

"The agreement calls for the teams, the developer and various state agencies to cooperate to implement a variety of mass transit and traffic improvements that will complement a detailed traffic and parking management plan designed to enhance the experience of all visitors to the sports complex, particularly on NFL game days."

A joint statement from Triple Five and the teams said the agreement "pave(s) the way for the construction of Triple Five's state-of-the-art retail and entertainment destination, while ensuring that the experience for Giants and Jets fans will be enhanced by infrastructure improvements and the implementation of traffic and parking management plans."

Exactly who will pay for the improvements was still unclear at press time last week. Still, more details are likely to follow as the project moves forward to construction.

Mount Laurel lacks Christie fans

Last week officially marked two months since Gov. Chris Christie last took questions from reporters.

Still, Bridgegate hasn't stopped the governor from going straight to the public as last week he held his fourth town hall since the scandal broke.

But while the first three were held in Christie-friendly areas of Monmouth, Morris and Ocean counties, last week's was in Mount Laurel, the historical backdrop to a now famous affordable housing decision that he has challenged.

As it was with the other town halls, no bridge-related questions were thrown Christie's way — a testament, the governor has claimed, to the people's lack of interest in the media-fueled frenzy.

But unlike the others, Christie faced a heap of hecklers. By most reporters' counts, six were thrown out by police during the course of the town hall.

As one source puts it, the town hall just further stressed the point that sooner or later, Christie is "going to have to face the music."

But rather than retreat back to safe ground, Christie should continue to expand his geography. He should be able to, the source says, given that he's a "gifted politician.

"He's going to have to do them in territories that are both friendly and hostile," the source said.


GWB case possibly in limbo

Bridget Kelly and Bill Stepien, former aides to Gov. Chris Christie, were called into court last week to address their requests to quash subpoenas issued by the legislative committee investigating their roles in the George Washington Bridge scandal.

The pair claims they should not have to produce subpoenaed documents through an invocation of their Fifth Amendment rights.

They could just as easily win that argument as they could lose it. We really don't know, and with the judge now deciding the request's fate, no one knows how long it will be until we have any real outcome in the case.

"This is not going to be an investigation that proceeds quickly," one source said.

Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Tom Bergeron at tomb@njbiz.com.

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