ARC Tunnel gets two week "reprieve"

Friday, October 08, 2010 - 05:14 PM

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  Secretary Ray LaHood left Trenton without speaking to reporters, but an hour later Chris Christie issued this statement:

"The fact that the ARC project is not financially viable and is expected to dramatically exceed its current budget remains unchanged.  However, this afternoon Secretary LaHood presented several options to potentially salvage a trans Hudson tunnel project.  At the Secretary’s request, I’ve agreed to have Executive Director of NJ Transit Jim Weinstein and members from his team work with U.S. Department of Transportation staff to study those options over the next two weeks."

Christie's spokesman would not elaborate on the options, and said work shutting down the tunnel construction is still underway. LaHood issued an almost identical statement:

"Governor Christie and I had a good discussion this afternoon, during which I presented a number of options for continuing the ARC tunnel project. We agreed to put together a small working group from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the office of NJ Transit Executive Director Jim Weinstein that will review these options and provide a report to Governor Christie within two weeks."

It's unclear whether this is a face-saving measure for Secretary LaHood, a big advocate of rail and transit, or whether there will be a serious consideration of whether the project can be saved.


Comments [2]

Mark Nardolillo

opps, that was meant to read $9B in the second sentence

Oct. 09 2010 12:05 AM
Mark Nardolillo

The press, the public and the NJ congressional delegation must challenge the rhetoric surrounding the revised cost estimate to build this project. The facts are that the Tunnel project, due to recessionary economic circumstances, can be built for a not to exceed price of $9M. Real estate prices have dropped 35% since 2007, labor and commodity prices have rermained flat or declined and contractors have shapremed their pencils like never before. In every state throughout the country nd especially NJ, transportation projects are being bid and built at budgets 20% below their original engineer's estimate. The outrageous estimates of $11M to $14M are built on thin air with overly-inflated contingencies in oder to achieve the desired political outcome - which is to redirect NJ's contribution to the Tunnel back to the bankrupt NJ Transportation Trust Fund. Ask the engineers, contractors and real estate officials familiar with the project what the true number is and you will discover its very close to the original 2007 estimate and can be safely delivered for that number. But the press and public like to grab onto to these big headline grabbing numbers and assume they are realistic because it plays into perceptions of government agencies not being able to carefuly manage their budgets on big construction projects. But in this case the lousy economy has actually allowed NJ Transit and therefore the taxpayers to buy a lot more project for the same dollar than when the 2007 estimate was developed.
Check the facts and you'll discover that this project was shut down for reasons other than projected cost overruns.

Oct. 08 2010 11:59 PM

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