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Amtrak and NJ Transit End Talks on Salvaging ARC Tunnel

Friday, November 12, 2010

Talks between Amtrak and New Jersey Transit over an abandoned commuter train tunnel have broken down just two weeks after they began.

The two parties began discussions late last month, shortly after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie abandoned the tunnel over cost concerns. The talks addressed, among other issues, whether Amtrak would be willing to buy land that New Jersey Transit had acquired to construct the tunnel — and which the state may try to sell in order to recoup some of the $600 million that’s been spent on the project so far.

“Those talks have concluded and at this point Amtrak is not in talks to revive that tunnel project nor use the property for high speed rail initiatives,” Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole said.

“We’re all interested in exploring affordable alternatives to the trans-Hudson challenge,” said spokesman for NJ Transit, Paul Wyckoff.

Christie cancelled the Access to the Region's Core tunnel last month because he didn't want New Jersey to be primarily responsible for cost overruns on the $10 billion to $13 billion project.

The governor is fighting with the Obama administration over just how much money it needs to reimburse the federal government for money that’s been spent on the project, now that it won’t go forward. The U.S. Department of Transportation this week billed the state for $271 million, but New Jersey Transit disputes the amount.

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