Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
A day after Senator Frank Lautenberg passed away, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie didn't pull any punches over one of their most bitter disagreements: a transit tunnel under the Hudson River that Christie cancelled. The death of the so-called ARC tunnel, for "Access to the Region's Core," rankled Lautenberg to the end.
But Christie gave no quarter Tuesday. "That project was a flawed, failed project that was going to cost the people of New Jersey a fortune," he said, at a press conference announcing a special election to replace Lautenberg. "That project was a dog, and it's a dog that deserved to be gone."
Lautenberg had secured billions in federal funding for the project, which at the time of its death -- tunneling was already underway -- was the largest transit infrastructure project in the nation. But Christie, citing the potential for cost overruns, halted the project, sending billions back to the federal government and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which was funding a third of the project. "You can't fit a size ten foot in a size seven shoe," Christie said at the time.
On Tuesday, he reprised his arguments. "I'm not going to have the taxpayers of New Jersey bearing the burden of any dollar of overrun on the project with the city of New York and the state of New York paying nothing, and have the tunnel end up underneath Macy's where there are no other transfer people to take."
But Christie said he was supportive of a second tunnel -- in concept. "I've said all along whether it's the Gateway tunnel or the 7 train -- we've been participating in conversations on both those projects. I've always said we need a second commuter tunnel."
Christie called for a special election on October 16, with an August 13th primary.