Governor Christie Scraps NJ-NY Rail Tunnel

TRENTON, NJ (CBS 2/WCBS 880/1010 WINS) –– New Jersey Governor Chris Christie killed a decades-in-the-making train tunnel connecting New Jersey and Manhattan, saying Thursday that the state can’t afford to pay for cost overruns on the already under-construction project.

A day after saying he had not made a decision about pulling the plug on the ARC Tunnel, Gov. Christie put the brakes on the project, which would have allowed New Jersey Transit to run more trains into Manhattan.

The governor appointed a panel to look into what the tunnel would cost.

“They came to me with their final numbers, and their recommendation,” Christie told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Levon Putney with Sen. Robert Menendez
LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports on Sen. Lautenberg’s reaction
LISTEN: Star-Ledger’s Tom Moran talks with WCBS 880 on how ending the ARC project will affect New Jerseyans

While Democrats give an $8.7 billion figure to the project, Christie said his panel found the state would have to spend as much as $5 billion more, despite the federal government’s commitment of $3 billion.

“I simply cannot put the taxpayers of the state of New Jersey on what would be a never-ending hook,” Christie said.

Commuters have been quick to drive their concerns across on the death of a project that could have created hundreds of jobs in construction and made commuting easier.

“They should be able to find the money somewhere,” Garwood resident Rick Price said.

“That’s bad. I’m a college student, I have an internship in New York, I have to come back from New York all the way to Wayne because I go to William Paterson University, and I need those trains,” commuter Shariese Katrell said.

The contractor for the project also weighed in on the decision and talked to WCBS 880.

“The investment in this new tunnel was a basically once in a lifetime opportunity to improve transportation for New Jersey residents,” Denise Richardson, managing director of the General Contractors Association of New York, said.

“We’re very saddened by the governor’s decision and we understand that he wanted to look at the cost implications of the project,” Richardson said, “we think that it would have been better if both sides had more of an opportunity to present their concerns and to reach a consensus on how the project should go forward rather than just cancel it.”

Democrats who pushed for the tunnel say New Jersey will now have to pay back the federal government the $600 million it has already spent on the first phase of the project.

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg blasted Christie’s cancellation of the project as “one of the biggest policy blunders in New Jersey’s history.”

“Without increased transportation options into Manhattan, New Jersey’s economy will eventually be crippled,” said Lautenberg, who held a news conference outside Newark’s Penn Station to criticize the decision. Lautenberg helped secure federal funding for the project.

Lautenberg acknowledged that cost overruns on a project of the tunnel’s size were inevitable, but said Christie’s numbers are inflated.

“Now New Jersey has a tunnel to nowhere,” State Assemblyman John Wisniewski said.

Democrats claim the Republican governor cancelled the ARC project so he could spend the money the state committed to the tunnel for the transportation trust fund. They also question Christie’s numbers.

“This report, three pages, has no data to it,” Wisniewski said. “This is the three pages that cost New Jersey $6 billion today.”

“We should demand – if not possibly subpoena – records,” State Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Cryan said.

The governor questioned the hole Democrats say the state is now in, and said he’s not about to spend billions to save $600 million. In fact, he said New Jersey’s Democratic senators should spend their time finding ways to redirect the federal money toward other projects.

Governor Christie also questioned why New York City wouldn’t contribute money toward the tunnel, since the city would have benefitted from it. Mayor Bloomberg said earlier this week that he supported the tunnel, but that the city couldn’t help pay for it.

More from Christine Sloan
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  • Marie Nochols

    Gov. Christie,

    We need more of your style politician- Honesty, Integrity, working for the people rather than the people working for the government!
    Being a leader is being able to do what is right no matter the popularity! I believe Chris Christie is a LEADER!

  • Bill

    Gov. Christie has the guts to call a halt to the senseless spending. Haven’t there been large numbers of citizens of N. J. leaving the state because of the tax situation? Maybe some of them will come back now.

  • Bailey

    We need more politicians like Christie. Tells you like it is and if you don’t have it, you shouldn’t spend it. PS – I hate liberals

  • Jay H.

    Great projects like the Hoover Dam and the Empire State Building all came in under Budget, why can’t we still do this ?

  • terry

    you hit the nail on the head Mitch.If our elected official would put the state and federal worker under the same pension plan that the private sector has, we would be able to afford our taxes and business would thrive,which mean more jobs.

  • Mitch

    oh please teachers are the biggest bunch of crybabies i’ve ever seen. They get a lifetime pension and health plan, and have a total of 180 teaching days. with conferences and and everything else that adds up to about 200 total working days. They get summers off where they can earn additional income, they have every holiday in the world off and usually for extended breaks. And some have the best possible hours you can imagine. Yes, being a teacher is a respectable career path, I have many a friend who is, but every one of them makes it out as if their job is the hardest and most intricate job in the world, and no one understands their plight.

  • Rick

    Overpaid and underworked teachers??? Jim, i would love to see you try being a teacher for one week. See how you feel then. Why are teachers in other countries held with such high regard and respect, but in America they are scoofed at? Why do only a few of our brightest consider teaching as a profession? Shame on all of you who put down teachers.

  • Tom

    Maybe Mark could use “tis” education money.

  • jim

    The whole nation needs responsible leaders like Chris Christie. I know the overpaid and underworked teachers and union workers hate his honesty and I hope they all lose the pensions and benefits they stole from private workers. GO CHRISTIE<!!!ROT UNIONS AND BOGUS TEACHER CROOKS!!!!

    • Bat the Fkg Man

      Jim…sorta like those overweight, overpaid, underworked corporate rip-off artists who do squat except devise new ways to deceive and defraud the American public…

    • Josh P

      Are you lumping in the fire department, local and state police, nurses, air traffic controllers, longshoremen and teamsters in that “Unions suck” rant? If you’re going to bash the public teachers union, then you have to bash the other public ones too. Go bash the fire department. Be brave.

  • New Jersey Fred

    Wish Christie would go be governor of Alaska, far away from NJ. Maybe he’ll have more success there than that other Republican bozoette who tried to be governor, and couldn’t hack it…

  • blahblablah

    What an idiot! A project that’s fully funded, and does not take a cent out of NJ government revenue, and it creates current and permanent jobs, and this dork wants to cancel it, and then put the State of NJ on the hook for $300 mil, oh yeah a real smart guy..

    Cancel Christie not the project. Short Sited big mouth.

    • Howlin Hobert of Hoboken

      That’s the Republican mantra…and New Jerseyians have no one to blame but themselves…

    • Jen

      Get your facts straight before you waste our time. Feds were funding $3 billion of the projects…rest was NJ money. And the $3 billion doesn’t appear out of thin air…thats our tax dollars!!!!!

      Thank you Christie!

  • Steve

    20 years of planing out the window ,the fat guy hates it .he must hate cops ,fireman ,road dept guys ,teachers,anybody that is a blue coller worker .the people that make this state run and keep it safe .thanks bro your great ,NOT

  • MM

    Good for NJ! Boston’s Big Dig had a budget estimate of $7bil and the final cost to taxpayers was over $14bil (and the bloody thing leaked). No doubt, if a Dem was in the Gov’s Mansion the project would have gotten the green light to feed the labor unions.
    Starve the Beast!! The salad days are over!!

  • Debbie

    Know something about the project before you shoot your mouth off. This project would mostly be paid for by NJ and benefit the NY unions. NY flat out REFUSED to help pay for it. Christie is doing the right thing Boo Hoo to all of you that mourn the Dems of years past whose policy was to spend spend spend and tax tax tax.. Im an Independent and I like what I see. I hope he puts NJ back in the black and shapes up this sorry state.

  • iRunThis

    Why is it everyone that I know named Jerry is a democrat or liberal???
    Strange but true

    • Josh P

      Jerry Falwell? Oops!

  • steve doc

    wish he go away

  • Colorado Fred

    Wish Christie was my Governor, fiscally responsible, and guts to stand and deliver……

  • Jerry Leigh

    There are several articles about Republican governors stalling on, or cancelling, rail projects, even those fully funded by the federal government. Paranoid as it sounds, this appears to be a continuation of a pattern. I’d be a bit concerned about the 300 million dollars that he’s gonna have to come up with, upon formal cancellation of the project.

  • terry

    I thought that’s what the stimulus money was for,shovel ready projects. I wish he was running for governor of New York State, instead of the 2 fools we have running 1 is a big mouth and the other one is a lier like the rest of the trash we have now.

  • Another Peter

    If the fact that NJ is broke isn’t enough to gag those who seek yet another spending binge, consider that the track record of the Port Authority and other state sponsored projects has been abyssmal. Masive overruns, failed projections and endless delays are the norm. Thank God we finally have a Gov who has a lick of common sense.

  • Mark

    It won’t benefit Christie or his “Fat Cat” friends, so why am I not surprised? It’s in keeping with his fiscal policies to the people, like cancelling $1,000,000,000 in education aid to NJ public school students tis year.

    • terry

      you must be one of those “fat cat” union worker,with the outrages pension.

  • Richard

    This was a boondoggle from the beginning and would have cost the NJ taxpayers a Fortune. We are broke and cannot afford anything else. It is about time someone had the guts to stand up and just say NO you have my vote.

  • Bill M.

    I wish we had a Governor like Christie in NY!

    • topgun

      you will soon, but not coumo

  • Andy

    Not me Peter. So far Christie has earned my vote and will continue to support him as long as he continues to act fiscally responsible and bring back honest leadership without the usual politics.

  • Peter

    Let’s do the same job in 4 years from now at double the cost.. Christie you will not get my vote for Govenor or President. I hope the other 250,000 plus commuters feel the same way

    • new lamby

      So the next few generations pay for for a project that will probably be $10,000,000,000 over budget when it is completed decades late. Too bad former NJ Govenors did not do the same. Then NJ would not be in such a mess. But what do you care. You’ll probably retire to Florida where there is no state income tax

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