Christie: I Haven't Reviewed Final Tunnel Numbers

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Bill Brady in Chicago on Tuesday New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Bill Brady in Chicago on Tuesday (Sarah Smith for WNYC)

Speaking at a hospital bill signing in Newark, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is just returning from a multi-day midwest campaign swing with fellow Republicans, says he hasn't had a chance to meet with his staff or review the final numbers regarding the ARC commuter train tunnel from New Jersey to New York. The fate of the $8.7 billion tunnel has been in doubt since last month, when Christie ordered a moratorium on new construction.

Since then, sources say, the governor has become increasingly convinced that New Jersey "can't afford" to pay for potential cost overruns. The tunnel was supposed to double transit capacity between New Jersey and New York City, and was seen by some planners as key to regional economic growth.

Speaking in Newark Wenesday, Christie says he would do a "cold-hearted analysis" of all the numbers. But he didn't offer a specific timeline, saying only, "I have not had a chance to review cost estimates yet and meet with [NJ Transit Executive Director James] Weinstein and [NJ DOT Commissioner Jim] Simpson. Once I have a chance to do that, then I will be in a position to make a decision. As far as timing goes, I can't speak to that but, I don't dawdle. I will make a decision quickly."

Chrstie also refuted the idea that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey could guarantee cost overruns, as U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg has suggested, by saying that New Jersey tollpayers already fund much of the Port Authority's budget. 

"I heard Senator Lautenberg say, well, just have the Port Authority pay for it. Where does he think that money comes from? It comes from predominantly New Jersey toll payers who are paying the tolls to go over bridges into New York. So it's not like that money comes from some tree in Senator Lautenberg's backyard."

And he said he didn't expect help from Mayor Michael Bloomberg either.

Instead, Christie says: "The criteria will be the reliability of the numbers that I'm provided and the back-up for that in terms of what the real cost of this project will be -- and then making a cold-hearted analysis of whether the state of New Jersey can afford it."

Sources close to the project say the governor has indicated he's already made up his mind, and is ready to repurpose New Jersey's $2.7 billion contribution to roads.

New Jersey would forfeit $3 billion in transit funding back to the federal government, and another $3 billion would go to the Port Authority, though presumably that could later be spent partly on New Jersey projects.



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Comments [12]

DJ from NJ

Projects on this scale are never funded with "saved up" money. They always includes some borrowing - this project is an investment! Another tunnel is needed. Should we have to wait another 100 years? No. So...figure out how to do it! It took SO long to put THIS deal together - do you think that if we cancel it, that the federal government will pledge 3 BILLION dollars again? I think not!

Governor - was this recent 2-week cross-country jaunt vacation time? If not - perhaps the time could have been better spent finding a way to fund this project - and making THIS state stronger. Wasn't that what your election campaign was about?

Oct. 07 2010 01:03 PM
Ricky from New Jersey

"How about some nice gentrification in JC and Newark. Come white flighters move on back. " - Elka

I approve of this, too, as it means more places that are likely to support transit. But the tunnel or a ferry or a bridge will be necessary eventually, and we really should start saving up the money to pay for it if we can't afford the infrastructure right now.

Oct. 07 2010 12:03 PM
Ricky from New Jersey

Y'know what? Maybe I'll stay in the Republican Party after all. There aren't enough RINOs.

Oct. 07 2010 11:59 AM
Blusztejn from nj

Bottom line, who will be responsible for the cost overruns?

Oct. 07 2010 10:52 AM

What about the jobs, jobs, jobs that will be lost by terminating this project. Once again short term gain, long term loss.

Oct. 07 2010 10:08 AM
elka from NJ

Oh yes. Bye bye Ricky. :)

Oct. 07 2010 09:27 AM
elka from NJ

This is the best decision. We cannot pay for this. So are we supposed to borrow billions of dollars to pay for something that only a fraction of the population of NJ will use? Cristie is brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. There are so many other ways to ease the congestion to NY. How about some nice gentrification in JC and Newark. Come white flighters move on back. This project is to allow the cushy life in Princeton Junction for all of the commuters. Come on and live in Nort Jersey, give up those McMansions. What do you say? Are you coming?

Oct. 07 2010 09:25 AM

Christie has had 30 days to review this project, but he's waiting until the day before he is supposed to give his final answer to do any type of reviewing. He didnt even make an effort, so thank you Mr. Donut Hole for not only possibly discontinuing the 15 years of hard work among everyone (designers, engineers, NJ TRANSIT, PANYNJ, government officials) to reach a final decision between federal and bi-state leaders and an agreed upon budget, but for destroying thousands of jobs not only those who are currently working on the project who have no other projects to move onto, but those contractors who are just waiting for their turn to take part in this once in a lifetime project who not to mention probably turned down many other jobs to have their part in ARC. Hats off to you, hope you feel good about your decision.

Oct. 06 2010 07:43 PM
Ricky yet again from Middlesex County

So Christie has decided to do a "cold-hearted analysis" of the tunnel project. I am doing a cold-hearted analysis myself. I am considering whether it makes any sense at all to stay in the Republican Party or support any of its candidates at the state or national level. I mainly joined the GOP to pick off the most extremist candidates before they did any harm. But if even the so-called moderates want to behave like extremists, then one wonders whether the party is worth saving or contributing to.

Oct. 06 2010 07:11 PM
Ricky from Middlesex County, NJ

If the governor has made up his mind already, then I have. Good bye GOP

Oct. 06 2010 06:35 PM
Ricky from Middlesex County, NJ

If Christie cancels, we will step up our campaign to get a trans-Hudson tunnel or other trans-Hudson railroad related project built, through reason, financing, campaigning, and common sense. Even a supposedly airtight argument for cancellation will be looked over and reviewed for flaws. More money for overbuilding New Jersey's roads is not acceptable. Fix the potholes and intersections, yeah, but NJ DOES NOT NEED MORE SPRAWL!

Oct. 06 2010 06:32 PM
Edna St. Vincent Millay from New York

Christie exhibits characteristic progress-busting leadership. His tired old-lower tax kvetching is a disservice not only to NJ - but also to the entire three state region. Chris, wake up and realize your model is immoral and corrupt.

Oct. 06 2010 05:55 PM

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