NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – It was a controversial move when Gov. Chris Christie put the brakes on a new tunnel project saying it was too costly. Now, a new federal report claims the project may not have cost as much as Christie had predicted.
There would eventually be more trains, some commuters said, had New Jersey gone through with building a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River called the ARC, short for “access to the region’s core.”
“We need it, period,” South Orange’s Anthony Despenza told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan on Tuesday.
But Gov. Christie cancelled ARC, saying it could cost $8 billion more than estimated figures. However, a new report released by the Government Accountability Office claims the governor’s numbers were exaggerated.
“It’s important for the people of New Jersey. The commuters, whether they go east or come west ought to know what took place,” said U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
Lautenberg, a Democrat, requested the report, which claims Garden State residents would have shouldered 14 percent of the bill instead of the 70 percent projected by the governor.
Christie said he stands by his decision.
“But I refuse to compromise my principles, so when they want to build a tunnel to the basement of Macy’s and stick the New Jersey taxpayers with a bill of $3-5 billion over, no matter how much the administration yells and screams you gotta say no,” Christie said.
The governor said his figures were based on an ARC executive steering committee memo. He said the report fails to mention New Jersey was required to build a portal bridge for the trains, estimated to cost more than $700 million.
But a local assemblyman said the governor wanted to spend money earmarked for the ARC on the Transportation Trust Fund to avoid a gas tax.
“This had everything to do with him wanting to burnish his Republican credentials for a potential national run,” Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski said.
But those in Christie’s corner said they don’t see it that way.
“I am a big supporter of Gov. Christie,” Ohio resident Fran Miller said. “I would have to say I would have to place my bets on what he’s offering what he’s supporting.”
As to whether he would support the ARC tunnel or a similar project again, the governor said not until everyone shares in the cost, including New York.
The governor’s press secretary said when the cost of the bridge is added in New Jersey would have been burdened with 60 percent of the costs.
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