NJ U.S. Senator Menendez: A $600 Million Hole in The Ground

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(Washington, DC -- Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez (D) has come out swinging against Gov. Chris Christie’s decision today to kill a planned transit tunnel across the Hudson River to New York City.

Menendez fired off a statement this afternoon accusing Christie of wasting taxpayers’ money and killing jobs by nixing the multi-billion dollar-project.

“Instead of getting a major investment from the federal government, New Jersey taxpayers now owe the federal government $300 million plus interest and penalties as a result of the governor giving up on the tunnel. That’s on top of the $300 million our state has already spent. New Jersey taxpayers are now the owners of a brand new, $600 million Hole To Nowhere,” the statement read.

Menendez also took aim at Christie’s assertion that the $3 billion pledged by the feds for the project could be used for other programs in New Jersey. Menendez said he spoke with DOT officials.

“The Department of Transportation reiterated that the tunnel was a high-priority New Starts project and that this funding was dedicated for that purpose and can only go to a New Starts project, not to other state transportation projects in our state,” he said.

Federal DOT officials said they’re set to meet tomorrow on the turn of events.

New Jersey’s other senator, Frank R. Lautenberg (D) took a similar stance to Menendez earlier today. “Killing the ARC Tunnel will go down as one of the biggest public policy blunders in New Jersey’s history. Without increased transportation options into Manhattan, New Jersey’s economy will eventually be crippled,” he said.

Lautenberg is a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.