Christie Kills Hudson River Transit Tunnel

Governor Christie announced this afternoon that he’s pulling the plug on state funding for the ARC Tunnel, a major construction project to increase train capacity between New York and New Jersey. The project had been estimated to cost $8.7 billion — with $3 billion coming from the federal government, $3 billion coming from the Port Authority and $2.7 billion coming from NJ. But construction costs were expected to swell, with NJ picking up the overages.

ARC stood for Access to Region’s Core, and was touted as a project to improve NJ Transit’s overtaxed infrastructure, help the environment by getting cars off the road and create jobs. Already, $600 million has been on the doomed project.

A joint news release from Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Environment New Jersey, NJPIRG, called Christie’s action “a short-sighted move that will stunt New Jersey’s growth for generations to come.” Sen. Frank Lautenberg said in a news release today that “Killing the ARC Tunnel will go down as one of the biggest public policy blunders in New Jersey’s history.” He added:

The Governor has sentenced New Jersey to a future of insufficient access to New York City, fewer job opportunities, and lower home values. Killing the ARC Tunnel will be a boon to the people of Connecticut, Long Island and Westchester who will gain a new competitive advantage over New Jersey commuters. As New York and Connecticut are investing in rail and making their states more attractive and convenient places to live, Governor Christie is taking New Jersey out of the race for future Manhattan jobs.

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78 COMMENTS

  1. That is an excellent Republican Tea Party decision. Let the free market handle the transportation problem instead of dealing with the problem and create an efficient oversight.

  2. I commute every day through the freakin’ crowded tunnel we have now, but this line caught my eye:

    “…construction costs were expected to swell, with NJ picking up the overages.

    Christie did the right thing.

  3. This is a needed project. However, that breakdown on costs sounds like a VERY bad deal to me. That tunnel serves NY just as much as NJ. The amount being billed to NJ should be split 50-50 with NY!

    All those commuters fill NY’s coffers with city income tax. All the lunches and dinners they buy support NY businesses and taxes. All the day trippers are spending plenty of money there. And all of those people end up on the NY subway, spending more there. And PLENTY of NY riders head into Jersey, to go such places as the Jersey shore on the train, as well as the stops along the way, not to mention such attractions as the Giants.

    NY should always have had to pay 50%!

  4. As much as I thought that tunnel was way cool and I liked looking at the plans, *we can’t afford it right now!!* Thanks Chris! With my company rumored to be announcing a big increase in health insurance premiums along with cancellation of raises and bonuses (again) for 2011, I can use all the help I can get. Oh wait, this isn’t going to help me with my ever-escalating property tax bill, though, will it? Actually, in order to be able to afford my house I may have to look for a better-paying job in the City, in which case I’d be taking the train (so I can have a beer on the ride home) …

    hey! Where’s my new Tunnel?! thanks a LOT Chris! 😛

  5. “ARC…was touted as a project to improve NJ Transit’s overtaxed infrastructure…”

    Perhaps, then, this is a victory for NJ’s overtaxed residents. I would love to see increased access between NY and NJ, and I am all in favor of the new jobs this tunnel would create, etc., but as a veteran of Boston’s Big Dig and — as Walleroo pointed out — with the taxpayers of New Jersey having to pick up the cost overrun bills, Governor Christie did the right thing.

  6. The tunnels need to be built, and the other infrastructure repairs that were part of this project (the Portal Bridge, for example), need to happen. The Governor also campaigned as an advocate of this project.

    What’s more, something like $650,000,000 has already been spent, and if the project is cancelled, we’re on the hook to the feds for about $340,000,000 of their money that was included in that total. In addition, NJ already legally committed to this project, which means we could get hit with additional financial penalties.

    Since the Governor has demonstrated a penchant for “Negotiation by playing Chicken”, I think it is entirely possible that this is a ploy on his part to get more favorable terms. If so, he’s playing a very dangerous game with the economic welfare of our state. If not, we all lose, and it’s another broken promise.

  7. Don’t get me wrong. I think this is a great project and we could certainly use it. But now is not the time if we are gooing to be left holding the bag. We simply cannot afford it. I know what many of you think of Christie but it’s about time we had someone who grew a pair.

  8. The list of items Christie the campaigner vowed to support, and now as Christie the governor has turned against, is rapidly mounting.

    But he’s plenty popular in other states! They love what he’s done!

    Which is… what, exactly?

  9. Better run the spelling of the gov’s name by the committee, Dag, before you start printing the posters.

  10. He acts, cro. In the style of Maggie Thatcher. Remember her?

    “We’re going to go on, and on, and on…”

  11. I’ve been saying for years that the train infrastructure in this state is a mess. But, I agree with Christie: NJ was to liable for an unknown figure (likely in the billions) with the way things are currently set up.

  12. Whoops croi. I’ll pay more attention. I just read the supporting article. Seems he really did make the right decision. If he’s playing chicken hoping to lower the costs good for him.

  13. Oh I remember the Iron Lady quite well, ‘roo. And how she “acted”.

    And the roughly 20 years it took to dig out of the mess she made.

    I hope its not as long fixing Christie’s, but at least from the looks of him he won’t stand idly by while people starve themselves to death.

  14. Margaret Thatcher is still alive. I had her in my last dead pool, but she is hanging on.

    Christie should be removed from office immediately. I know you guys on the right like the “kicking ass and taking names” approach, but it only serves to piss off all the people you need to work with and nothing positive gets done.

  15. Walleroo. Your “on and on” post reminded me of Elaine Paige’s song “Life Goes On” and now it will be in my head till someone offers up another ditty.

    And why does my iPad and iPhone have a Classic icon which takes me back to the old format but my laptop doesn’t?

  16. Let’s face it! It would never look as good as the illustrations, so stop the madness now! Okay, more water taxi’s and I’ll be thrilled! Love the breeze blowing in my hair and the smells of the Hudson River

  17. @lauraloonie,

    The water taxi’s are nice for leisure, but @ $20 round trip, its not exactly a commuter train. More of a tourist transport. Talk to me about the “breeze” in January, or during a downpour. This tunnel is mainly for the metro area going into the city. But for those coming from the city, there is a good chance that they will be heading to the shore so why not have Monmouth county pitch in a little more and give the North a break?

  18. Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy,

    I do declare, there is a breeze 365x24x7 going through this hair! Who said you have to stand outside? Pretty soon, your train ride will cost you $20+. And for the folks in Monmouth county chipping in–good idea, but they have a highspeed ferry from Wall St. today that goes to the Highlands and maybe a few other places–year round!

  19. Let NYC pay for it. They can’t continue their delusion of being the center of the world if people can’t get to them.

  20. The known known here is that NJ is on the hook for overruns.
    The known unknown here is that we don’t know how many billions over budget the project would be if continued as-is.
    The unknown unknown is whether this worthy-in-concept idea is doable at all.

    Christie did the right thing in this context.

  21. Relax folks. The tunnel is going to get built, just not under the absurd cost structure that has NJ on the hook for an open-ended liability. Think about the “Big Dig” overruns. It is necessary, everyone knows it, and over $600mm, has already been spent. Thankfully we have an adult in the statehouse watching our finances. This is a perfect example of the kind of “shovel ready” projects that the wing-nut administration in Washington claims to support, and a perfect example of their hypocrisy. They would rather “spread the money around” to buy votes in other constituencies. Think of the construction jobs and real infrastructure benefits to the whole region. Think of the sheer number of people who would stand to benefit. Instead we’ve got billions of federal dollars being proposed for the bullet train project to ferry tourists from Orlando to Miami? Oh, and the trains would be built in Germany or Canada.

  22. Now tell us, deadeye, about the “wingnut” Eisenhower administration, you know, the one that brought us the interstate highway system.

  23. Spiro,
    I’m all for infrastructure projects, as long as they don’t devolve into taxpayer-killing, union cost overrun boondoggles like we so recently saw in Boston. Fiscal responsibility, not union and political pandering. So far, this administration has yet to demonstrate that they can do anything right. That’s my opinion, and in a few weeks I think you’ll see that I’m not the lone voice in the wilderness. Christie will get this tunnel built, and the taxpayers of NJ won’t feel like they’ve been run roughshod over by the Feds in the process. The interstate highway system was federally funded, and largely predicated on issues of national defense, so we could move our forces around like the Germans on their autobahns as Eisenhower observed in WWII.

  24. deadeye, I am intrigued with your view of this administration as one that can not do “anything right”.
    No doubt, that explains why we have had exactly zero successful terrorist attacks on our nation since our president took over, an accomplishment that his predecessors will never be able to claim.

  25. Our nation’s vast railroad system was being undermined to it’s losing battle with the growing automobile industry,after WWII. During the Eisenhower administration, there was heavy lobbying by GM and Ford to buy out the railroads and allow them to wither away. The national defense issue was a good mask, especially during the “Cold War” years.

  26. Eisenhower’s interest in a national highway system went back to his experience 1919 when he was part of army convoy crossing the US on the Lincoln Highway.

    I don’t know where your faith in Christie’s ability to get this tunnel completed comes from. He has yet to show any competence in doing anything constructive.

  27. Our infrastructure is old, and the tunnels for trains are pretty much operating at capacity. Especially the tunnels for NJT which are shared with AMTRAK. At a time when construction workers are unemployed and interest rates are low, it makes sense to proceed with some much needed upgrading while Federal dollars are available to us. It’s the most densely populated state in the country. I don’t want to see us left holding the bag for huge cost overruns, but I also have little confidence in Christie’s abilities to get this project done.

  28. Sure gurl, what’s a few billions (ok maybe 8 or 10). Really, gurl you bitch about taxes yet want to throw billions around?

  29. p.s.

    Talk about something in the “nice to have” column. This project should wait until the state’s finances are in better shape.

  30. ROC, having to return $600 million to the Feds is not exactly fiscal prudence. Nor is exposing the state to breach of contract lawsuit liabilities too prudent either.

    Today’s 95,000 person unemployment increase is a direct result of public sector cutbacks — private sector employment only rose about 64,000 — so it was a net loss. Scrapping a program that will eliminate construction jobs
    is exactly the wrong thing to do at this time. Not to mention the increase in unemployment claims at a time when the unemployment fund is running out of money.
    Christie may appear to have big cojones, but then so do most schoolyard bullies.

  31. Christie continues to make unpopular decisions and take unpopular stands in the name of fiscal sanity. I support him on this. And I tend to agree that in the end, the tunnel will proceed, albeit with a saner balance between the states. But in the end, it doesn’t matter. The money is not there, the overruns are inevitable, and moving ahead with the current plan would be absolute insanity for NJ.

  32. Yeah kit! ROC’s right!

    I mean, what do you think this is? Just because FDR saw unemployment go down when he spent, and go up when he cut, doesn’t mean a damn thing.

    Cut back! Pay the 300M back! Pay out the unemployment bennies to 6000 construction workers.

    And anyway, the tunnel will be built later, and we all know that things always get cheaper in the future.

  33. @Kay Didn’t know that one so the Internet provided me with melody and words. I’m joyful and happy now!

  34. Cro,

    Roosevelt had a national debt 48% of GDP during the depression and ours now is approaching 100%. Where is all the money going to come from?

  35. It reached a level approaching 100% during WWII, which could be seen as perhaps the ultimate “stimulus”.

    Spending went off the charts during the war. It had to.

    And the economy, well, you tell me.

  36. 6,000 Construction jobs lost. 45,000 permanent jobs. 22,000 cars off the road — some of them Hummers. 70,000 tons of greenhouse gases eliminated.

    I would argue that Christie’s decisions are far from unpopular: they’re populist. He panders to the frustrations and fears of people who simplisticly think that cutting taxes is the answer to all our problems. It’s not courageous — it’s shortsighted and self-serving.
    This guy, during his Nero-like campaign tour of the country (while his state is sinking — talk about doing nothing!) accompanied by his lobbyist cronies, allowed himself to be introduced by a republican senator at a campaign stop as “the governor who stopped corruption in NJ and balanced the budget.” Needless to say, he didn’t correct the senator.

  37. Christie’s Presidential mettle becomes more obvious by the day, while Obama is on his way to becoming an obscure historical footnote, right next to Carter, under the category of feckless ineffectual presidents. And the best part is, it all starts next month.

  38. Oh yes, deadeye. Christie would make a wonderful president.

    Of course, I’m sure you’d put aside any objections to his lack of experience as an elected official, just like you did with Obama.

    There are just so many wonderful candidates on the Republican side that it would be hard to choose.

    Christie is marvelous, but what about Palin? And Sharron Angle sounds great too. Of course there’s Bachmann, and don’t forget Newt! I know, Christine O’Donnell! No, no, Carl Paladino! Ron Paul? John Boehner?

    Damn, I can’t decide! They’re all SO good!

  39. Of course you are Tudlow, clearly she’s a good witch.

    But really how many posters here would run their check books they way local towns, states and the Feds do? I don’t get it!

  40. Touche Croiag,
    Boehner doesn’t bother me, but Palin and that bimbo from Delaware, does anyone get it? I guess the hope is that over the next two years some earnest and mature moderates emerge. Things clearly aren’t working now.

  41. You have to admit, cro, that Christie is pretty good, at this moment in time. He does things. He takes action. He makes the bold stroke. His star may very well fade as soon as people go back to work and grow tired of the Tea Partiers and so forth, but for the moment Christie has played to the house, and he deserves the applause. Remember Corzine? All that hot air? Good lord, I would take Christie any day.

    Palin is just a media tart, not a serious contender. Maybe in the end times, but not now.

    And I’m sorry, tud, I can’t join a crusade against masturbation. It would be a betrayal of my ideals.

  42. Christine O’Donnell claims she had masturbation confused with sodomy. She now masturbates every chance she gets.

  43. What, cro? Did I piss you off or something?

    I don’t know, ‘roo, I see what you’re saying and all but I don’t much like Christie’s style. Sure, he’s quite good with playing the angry populist but he’s a big ol’ bully and very divisive–it will backfire on him soon methinks. I’m just a gentle soul and don’t find him appealing.

  44. Tud, you could never piss me off.

    What, ‘roo, has Christie “done”?
    What is different in NJ today? What has he accomplished other than creating an atmosphere of contention and disarray? I see nothing he’s accomplished, other than inflating (sorry) his own profile.

    Even today, after pulling the plug on the tunnel, he has agreed to rethink it after meeting with the transportation sec’y. Of course, the sec’y asked to meet with Christie BEFORE he made his dramatic announcement, but that would have been far too sensible. Better to pound the table and “act”, even though now it looks as though he realizes that he made a boo-boo.

    Same thing with the 400M ed money. First it was the NJEA’s fault. Then it was Obama’s. Then Schundler’s.

    The guy is a solid gold plated bully and, as they say in Texas, he’s all hat and no cattle.

  45. He is Christie the Destroyer. An overweight male American Thatcher.

    I agree that he’s also an odious bully, but I also find the sight of a governor of NJ slashing the budget rather refreshing. Call me a Tea Partier.

    (Close your eyes for a moment and imagine Mayor Bike Boy Mush Mush making an aggressive decision. )

    I don’t think Christie will have a lot of staying power. He won’t be the one to rebuild, but he’s good at demolition.

  46. It looks like Christie may change his mind. This is a good lesson in contrasts between our governor and the former governor of Alaska,

    re: public works projects:

    The Bridge to Nowhere:

    She was for it before she was against it.

    The Hudson River Tunnel:

    He was against it before he was for it.

  47. A bully is one who intimidates by power. I don’t think Christie falls into that category. He certainly doesn’t appear to pull any punches when stating his opinions but he also is bound by his position to communicate with not only his supporters but also his adversaries. He appears to be focused on saving the over taxed people of this garden state some bucks. NOT A BAD THING!!

    I heard this morning that the tunnel is not dead yet! No real surprise. Discussions continue. The outcome bears watching.

    Pass me my tea walleroo – no sugar please.

  48. Things would be SO MUCH better had Corzine only won……

    I love this, Christie’s probably gonna get more $$ from the feds (or at least some promise regarding overages).

    I still like the guy and am proud to have voted for him.

    Oh, and regarding possible repubs in 2012, cro, you forgot (I’ll leave out the possibility of a Democratic challenge…) a few, like Huckabee, Romney, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. But I know you were poking fun concentrating on Palin and Newt.

    I think after the “Flash” of Obama, many will simply want an honest guy with experience, who is unafraid to speak about the greatness of America, rather than a “citizen of the world” who apologizes and bows to everyone. (Obama still strikes me as soft and too worried about what people think of him.)

    Understand, I have a great fondness for Obama, he came in with a heap of trouble. BUT he promised a new tone, a new look and sadly, he’s just been a regular politician. For that alone, he lost me. Had he really worked to bring people together (whether it worked or not), I’d probably vote for him again. But it became clear early in the health care debate that he didn’t care about reaching. So….. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like he ran on one platform and abandoned it.

    But it will be fun to watch!!

    Enjoy the day all!!!

  49. I doubt things would have better with Corzine. As a matter of fact, I held my nose and voted for Christie because Corzine was so ineffectual.

    But stick with your assumptions, prof. They always seem to serve you so well.

    One can only ask if you’re serving up Huckabee, Romney et al as “better Reps”.

    If those characters are the best you have, God bless you.

  50. Well, thanks, croi. That warms my heart and soul.

    Your comments are amusing prof–what a revisionist history you spin. Both on the front of how the health care legislation process transpired and on how you initially “supported” Obama. Seems to me that he tried to build a consensus but it quickly became pretty clear that the other side wanted health care to be his “Waterloo.” It’s a shame that the country didn’t have a mature, intelligent debate about health care since they were too focused on valid issues like death panels and Marxism. Maybe we can write a book based on your comments: “Lies My Profwilliams Told Me.” But Huckabee, hee hee ha ha, you’re a hoot!

    I find it odd that the party that espouses personal responsibility didn’t take issue with Christie not taking any blame with his botched application that lost the state over 400 mill. He just kept passing the buck.

    He’s a bully because he points fingers and alienates the people he has to work with. Consider the hot topic of merit-based pay for teachers. He states he is fighting the too powerful union but NOT the teachers. I wonder if he has bothered to talk to the people actually teaching about his plan?

    And DagT, I like you, I really do. And I am no expert on economics (although my husband is pretty knowledgeable.) But I do know that equating how the federal gov’t runs its checkbook to how a individual person does is a gigantic oversimplification. I am shrugging that Atlas is Shrugging.

    What a gorgeous day, hope yinz enjoy it!

  51. I held my nose and voted for Christie…

    That’s quite a confession, cro. You may take communion tomorrow with a clear conscience.

  52. No doubt, that explains why we have had exactly zero successful terrorist attacks on our nation since our president took over, an accomplishment that his predecessors will never be able to claim

    What about Fort Hood?

  53. Tudlow, you know the side of the cross of which I stand even on one of my bad days and I am just shocked Shocked SHOCKED at their irreverence.

    I agree with you that the checkbook analogy is a quantum leap from personal to Federal finance. But some times the KISS theory makes sense. Montclair’s budget debacle, the potential tunnel bill and the excesses of the Federal government’s expenditures would probably benefit from the simplistic point of view – don’t spend what you don’t have the ability to finance within reason. Of course taxes can and certainly will be increased. The million question is “Who will pay”? Just as folks in Baristaville are considering tea instead of latte and are not supportive of the globe trotting bike man, Christie and people like him are newsworthy cause they speak for me. Oh no … that just reminded me of the lovely Delaware lady … “I am you”. NO NO NO!

    Right now the progressives are using the Keynesian model of economics. It doesn’t seem to be working.

    It was a deeelightful day today … tomorrow promises to be just as good. Yippeee

  54. Dag, there is a reason why economics is called “the dismal science”. I’m no economist and frankly extended discussions on the subject put me to sleep. However, to suggest that Keynesian models are preferred by “progressives” is just wrong. Nixon, both Bushes, and even Reagan followed the model.

    I would posit that the current financial disaster in which we find ourselves was many years in the making, and was created by both parties. It is this insistence on “my way is right, your way is wrong” that has coloured political and economic debate in this country for far too long, and has inhibited the sort of cooperation and common purpose that we need to get out of this.

    By the way, my soul is not really black. Its sort of ecru.

  55. Waleroo you are stealing my line .. but then great minds and all that….

    POSTED BY DagT | October 05, 2010 @ 10:08 pm

    Hey Tudlow I’ll see you that Catholic agnostic and I’ll raise you one. I’m a Catholic a-a-atheist.

  56. Croi I certainly don’t fancy myself as an economist but I’ve been reading that stuff for years. The WSJ being my bible once I realized that the good looking men on the IRT who disembarked at Wall St. seemed glued to those pages. So my bias is “Capitalism the Unknown Ideal” but I’m very aware that we live in a mixed economy and most recent leaders have been inconsistent in their application of economic theory.

    But Regan followed that model?? Show me!

  57. John Kenneth Galbraith called Reagan “our first unabashedly Keynsian”president.

    Read his book. He makes the case better than I could.

  58. Well ya see Croi just as in a political discussion a point can be backed by “authorities”. You pick Galbraith and I’ll reference Milton Friedman and never the two shall meet. But I do agree we need cooperation in government not the mud slinging and name calling that is sooooo current.

  59. In the back alley brawl I witnessed, Galbraith was able to get the brass knuckles away from Friedman and kick his culo.

    I won $500 that night!

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