This press release just out from the office of Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who is steaming mad about the cancellation of the ARC tunnel.
Here's the press release.
LAUTENBERG LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO CANCELLATION OF ARC TUNNEL PROJECT
NEWARK – U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today announced that he has launched an investigation into the cancellation of the nation’s largest infrastructure project. The investigation seeks to determine the circumstances, actions and motivations that led to the largest loss of Federal transportation resources in New Jersey history. Following a preliminary report that will be released before the end of this year, a final report will be delivered to the public within six months that will catalog all details and include recommendations to prevent such a loss of Federal revenue in the future.
“The cancellation of the ARC tunnel project will have repercussions for our state for decades and could harm the ability of New Jersey to secure transportation resources in the future,” said Lautenberg. “It is critical that the public know what happened and how we can prevent this from happening in the future. While I’m working in Congress to secure the federal funding our state needs to create jobs and improve the quality of life for New Jersey families, there has to be some assurance that large-scale projects are being handled properly at home. This investigation will root out the falsehoods and potential conflicts of interest surrounding the ARC Tunnel and identify the motivations and factors that led to the project’s demise.”
One of many issues that will be investigated is the role of DOT Commissioner James Simpson, who was instrumental in killing the ARC Tunnel. Simpson is now under a State Ethics Commission investigation for his role in the project. Simpson worked directly on the project for most of the year – and even represented the state at a contentious September 24, 2010, meeting in Washington with Federal officials to discuss the future of the ARC project after a news story appeared raising the issue of a conflict of interest ethics violation. Simpson oversaw work on the ARC Tunnel for the Federal Government under President George W. Bush as the head of the Federal Transit Administration. Section IX (Recusal of Official Matters) of the NJ Uniform Ethics Code prohibits a state official from having any involvement on a project if that person worked on the same project for any other government or private entity. The rule is also made clear here: N.J.A.C 19:61-7.1 et seq., (http://www.state.nj.us/ethics/statutes/rules/recusal.html