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Patton Boggs

Transportation Nation

Down to the Wire on Whether NJ Will Pay $271 Million for Cancelling ARC Tunnel

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

(New York - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) The clock is ticking on a proposed deal between the feds and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie over his decision in October to cancel the ARC rail tunnel under the Hudson because of projected cost overruns.

Christie has until the end of today to decide whether he will reimburse the Federal Transit Administration $271 million spent on ARC. In exchange, the agency would then turn around and hand back $128 million to the state for projects that improve air quality by cutting traffic congestion.

Meanwhile, earlier today Christie told Bloomberg TV: "We're having conversations with Mayor Bloomberg and others regarding the extension of the No. 7 train to Secaucus, New Jersey, which would do what we really wanted the ARC tunnel to do originally." (See WNYC for the full story.)

Governor Christie has said the state doesn't owe the money. Last month, he directed New Jersey Transit to hire Patton Boggs, a high-powered Washington law firm, to make the case for him with the federal government--by lawsuit, if necessary. The firm now stands ready to file suit if an agreement isn't reached in the next several hours.

"We have until midnight tonight," said Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak earlier today. "We have about seven hours and forty-nine minutes, something like that. We expect that our attorneys in Washington will be filing a timely response today."

Asked at a transportation conference in Washington how the negotiations were going, FTA Administrator Peter M. Rogoff declined to comment. The agency has already granted the state two extensions on an original deadline of December 24.

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Transportation Nation

New Jersey Gets More Time to Come Up With $271 Million

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) The Federal Transit Administration has told New Jersey it has two extra weeks to come up with the $271 million it owes on the ARC Tunnel project.

Earlier this week, the FTA sent a letter to Patton Boggs, the law firm that New Jersey Transit hired to fight the $271 million bill, extending the repayment deadline to January 10, 2011.  The original deadline was this week.

NJ Transit has been disputing the amount--and its reluctance to pony up the money immediately has paid off.  Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said recently that if the state repays the money in full, the DOT will give New Jersey $128 million back for projects that improve air quality by cutting traffic congestion.

You can read the FTA's letter to Patton Boggs below.

Response to Patton Boggs Extension Final Dec 20

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Transportation Nation

NJ Transit Hires K Street Powerhouse to Fight $271 Million Tab for ARC Tunnel

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Law firm Patton Boggs is a major K Street lobbyist in Washington, DC.

(New York -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC) New Jersey Transit is ratifying Governor Christie's decision to hire DC law firm Patton Boggs to fight a $271 million tab from the federal government for work on a defunct tunnel project.

Patton Boggs is one of Washington's most influential--and best paid--lobbying firms. New Jersey Transit executive director James Weinstein says the firm's expertise in the ways of federal bureaucracies make them worth the $485 an hour they'll be charging the state.

"Whatever we pay this law firm is going to be far less than what the federal government and the Federal Transit Administration is asking us to pay them," Weinstein said.

The FTA is giving the state until December 24 to pay its "debt to the United States"--reimbursement for initial work on the ARC tunnel project. Governor Christie cancelled it in October, citing the possibility of cost overruns. The move has proved popular with 56% of polled voters in New Jersey.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Mica Officially Becomes Infrastructure Chair, Civil Rights Groups Want Feds to Look at Cali's High Speed Rail, And Ikea's Two-Wheeled Holiday

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Florida Congressman John Mica was elected chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure by a vote of the Republican Conference on Wednesday. (Daytona Beach News-Journal)

New Jersey Transit's board of directors will consider today whether to hire a Washington, D.C., law firm to challenge the FTA's demands that the state return the $271  million allocated for the ARC Tunnel (AP via Wall Street Journal). We'll have more on this later today--stay tuned!

Also today: the New York City Council's Transportation Committee is having an oversight meeting on bicycling in New York. More on that later on today as well.

Civil rights groups are demanding a federal investigation into how California is awarding high-speed rail contracts. "Minority-owned business and small business have been almost totally left out of the planning, engineering and construction of this project," says one businessman. (Los Angeles Times)

The National Transportation Safety Board holds a forum on car seat safety in DC today. And some of the recommendations could mean wholesale changes to how Americans transport their kids--like keeping them in rear-facing car seats longer, and requiring that babies be buckled into car seats on airplanes instead of being held on their parents' laps. (NPR)

Mercedes Benz is testing a system uses night vision to detect pedestrians--then shine an extra beam of light upon them. (Automobile Magazine)

A free agent football player chooses being a train conductor over playing for the Jets.  "Fitzhugh said he has been blessed to work with his two childhood passions: football and trains." (WPIX)

Members of Edmonton's Chinese community are concerned that a proposed light rail line going through their neighborhood might destroy the city's energy flow. "It creates a sense of barrier, stopping energy from going to Chinatown," says one Feng Shui master. (Calgary Herald)

Ikea gives out bikes to 12,400 U.S. employees as a way of saying 'thanks for a great year.' (Consumerist)

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Transportation Nation

NJ Transit to Hire Biggest DC Lobbying and Law Firm to fight FTA

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Gov. Chris Christie

(New York, NY -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC)

Here come the lawyers.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has hired a law firm to challenge a $271 million tab the federal government says the state owes for the canceled ARC rail tunnel. Christie says he's approved the selection of the high-powered Washington, D.C. firm of Patton Boggs.

New Jersey Transit, which oversaw the trans-Hudson tunnel project that Christie killed in October, could ratify a contract with the firm at its meeting a week from Thursday.

Christie's office said yesterday the state would challenge the federal bill for money already spent on the project, known as Access to the Region's Core, or ARC.

The November 24 bill seeks payment within 30 days.

A Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak defended the hire, saying "We're much better off using a firm like this than using our own in-house attorneys or attorneys general. Not to knock their expertise, but let's face it, that's what these attorneys [at Patton Boggs] do for a living."

Read the rest of the story here.

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WNYC News

Christie Hires Law Firm to Fight Feds Over ARC Reimbursement

Thursday, December 02, 2010

WNYC

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has hired a law firm to challenge a $271 million tab the federal government says the state owes for the canceled ARC rail tunnel. Christie says he's approved the selection of high-powered Washington, D.C. firm Patton Boggs.

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Transportation Nation

Christie Hires Big DC Lobbying/Law Firm to Argue Transit Tunnel case

Thursday, December 02, 2010

From Governor Christie's Press Office (analysis coming):

Governor Chris Christie Approves Retention of Law Firm to Protect Taxpayers from Unreasonable FTA Demands

For Immediate Release

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Trenton, NJ – Furthering his commitment to protect New Jersey taxpayers, Governor Chris Christie today approved New Jersey Transit’s retention of a law firm to challenge the Federal Transit Administration’s attempt to bill the state $271 million in connection with the Governor’s cancellation of the ARC Tunnel project with its billions in potential cost overruns.

In cancelling the tunnel project, Governor Christie sought to protect taxpayers from an open-ended bill for a project whose final costs were unknown and unpredictable and which left New Jersey responsible for all cost overruns.  Now, Governor Christie will extend his pledge to protect taxpayers by challenging the federal government in its demand for more money from New Jersey.

“It’s not surprising that the same federal transit agency that had no clear way to pay for cost overruns of a project already hurt by poor planning and inequitable cost sharing is relying on bureaucratic power plays to wring even more money from New Jerseyans,” Governor Christie said.  “New Jersey and its taxpayers should not be responsible for these costs, which is why our Administration is making every effort to fight the FTA’s unreasonable demands.  I simply cannot allow our state to be taken advantage of any further over this highly flawed project.”

The Governor also said he was gratified to see bi-partisan support emerging from New Jersey’s Congressional delegation in support of the move to challenge the FTA and protect New Jersey taxpayers.

The Governor has authorized New Jersey Transit to retain the Washington, D.C. law firm of Patton Boggs, LLP.  NJ Transit will consider ratifying the contract at its regular board meeting on December 9.

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