Kate Hinds covers transportation for WNYC News.
ARC Tunnel's Launch - What A Difference A Year Makes
Wednesday, October 06, 2010 - 01:56 PM
(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation)
"These are the bold projects that in the past, were either debated to death or simply ignored."
That's Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff, speaking at the June 8, 2009 ARC tunnel groundbreaking in North Bergen, New Jersey.
What a difference a year makes. Today, officials around the region are awaiting formal word that the $8.7 billion tunnel is dead, and that NJ Governor Chris Christie will revert NJ's $2.7 billion to its transportation trust fund, mostly for roads. We can't afford the overruns, Christie has said. It's time for belt-tightening.
But this is now.
In the tape below -- from only 16 months ago -- you'll hear a host of hopeful and optimistic politicians, including then-Governor Jon Corzine, U. S Senators Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, and others referring to the ARC tunnel as a monumental boon for the region. It would be America's largest public work, a cousin to the 1910 Pennsylvania Railroad's trans-Hudson tunnel (which marked the last time a trans-Hudson tunnel was built). It was described as a project that was critical not only to the region's economy, but safety as well. It would relieve congestion on all modes, reduce carbon emissions, and improve family life (no kidding!) The tunnel was nothing less than the start of a new era.
Here's another tip that you're listening to a different time: at ten minutes and 30 seconds into Part 1 of the groundbreaking below, you'll hear Governor Corzine talking about how both Democrats and Republicans from both states came together to make the project happen. "It's been bipartisan, something that we all have worked on," he said. "Governors [George Pataki]
[Eliot] Spitzer, [David] Paterson, all pitched in." Other speakers: at 14:30, you'll hear Senator Lautenberg; and at 21:50 Senator Robert Menendez speaks. (Even so, the crowd at the groundbreaking was overwhelmingly Democrats.)
Peter Rogoff, the head of the Federal Transit Administration, begins speaking at :43 in. "These are the bold projects that in the past, were either debated to death or simply ignored." Other speakers: at 9:30 the (now outgoing) chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Anthony Coscia, begins speaking. Executive Director Chris Ward starts at 14:26 . Congressman Albio Sires is 16:47, and Congressman Bill Pascrell concludes at 18:58, with "this is a happy day for all of us. You've heard all the biblical things today. It is time to move on!"