Roadwork on Hold While Politicians Fight in Trenton

As of today, all state-funded transportation construction — totaling $1.7 billion for more than 100 projects — will be halted, until a dispute between Governor Christie and the Democratic legislature is resolved. Included in the on-hold list is the $148 million Route 3 Passaic River crossing project that would replace the moveable bridge over the Passaic River with a fixed structure. And of course there’s the Garden State Parkway interchange with I-78, which will finally allow Baristaville flyers to go to Newark Airport without schlepping through Irvington.

Front and center to the negotiation is the fate of billions of dollars in funds allocated for the rail tunnel under the Hudson River, which Christie put on a 30-day hold on September 10. The democrats are concerned that the governor might re-direct the money from the Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) project to bolster the state’s nearly bankrupt Transportation Trust Fund.

Last week, lawmakers held up approval of a $1.25 billion bond needed to cover road construction contracts through March.

Both sides will gather today in Trenton for an emergency meeting, scheduled for 10 a.m. In the meantime, thousands of construction workers are out of a job until the issue is resolved.

Christie is also expected to announce his decision on the fate of the ARC project by the end of the week. It is feared that the tunnel, which was expected to cost $8.7 billion, could run over by another $5 billion. The latest estimate from the Federal Transit Administration is also expected this week.

What do you think, Baristaville? Should the ARC project move forward or would the money be better spent on other transportation infrastructure improvements? Maybe we can’t have both…

Photo courtesy NJ DOT.

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45 COMMENTS

  1. love the pic. One guy working and 4 chatting. That’s about right. And this picture was, no doubt, selected by the DOT because of the copious industry on display.

  2. roc, I know you love being snide about pretty much everything, but does it occur to you that the four guys chatting could be working? When I do manual labor, it’s not eight hours of moving, hammering, etc. Sometimes I have to stop and say to someone, “Does this go there or here? Are we on schedule? Did we get this part in or that part in?”

    Or perhaps no one else has your scrupulous work ethic.

  3. Sure Nick,

    especially those two guys in the foreground – they look like they were in mid swing of their sledge hammers when the one needed guidance from the other. Like: “where are there some tools?” “dunno, let me check my pockets”.

  4. Maybe this photo is meant to depict the work stoppage? I think the guy “working” has actually dropped something – a coffee cup, cigarette?- and is picking it up. The workers are clearly following DOT guidelines. When they are told to stop working they get right on it. Chop, chop!

  5. I didn’t realize blue collar workers aren’t allowed to put their hands in their pockets. My mistake.

  6. ROC,

    I think you missed the worker all the way on the right, he’s making calculations based on vibrations he FEELS on the rebar. This method, “rebar-intuition” is a highly prized and valued in many DOT jobs. You’ll sometimes see them holding onto coffee cups to intuit the density of the ground they stand, or holding (“laying hands” as its called) onto a wall as they determine whether or not the concrete mix is proper.

    That you fail to know this only shows your bias.

  7. I wonder if the pictured workers are laboring as hard as they rest of us, commenting on Baristanet posts during working hours. 🙂

  8. Yeah, go get’em Christie!

    Borrow another billion without voter approval! That’s the stuff!
    “Redirect” some cash, a la the state pension funds, to cover up shortfalls!

    That’s change I can believe in!

    Where do I sign up to accompany his lordship on his next out of state campaign swing?

  9. Some of us are independently wealthy and don’t need to work, nickcharles. I am not one of them, mind you, but I am sure there are some in our midst. Probably not commies, either. But when a massive work stoppage is called and you can’t really tell the difference, you might get the indication that perhaps there wasn’t that much going on in the first place.

  10. “Borrow another billion without voter approval! That’s the stuff!
    “Redirect” some cash, a la the state pension funds, to cover up shortfalls!”

    The legislature approved it cro. And he’s put 15 billion on “hold” I take it you’d rather he borrow the 15 billion and carry on?

  11. p.s. To see how well our state has been managed on this front in the past it’s worth noting that:

    “This year, $850 million of the $895 million devoted to transportation projects will be spent on debt payments, according to the Transportation Trust Fund authority.”

  12. Christie needs to hold out for the next bit of quantitative easing. The Feds can’t give enough money away. He should at least be able to get enough cash to get a route to Grand Central. It’s either Grand Central or bust. That’ll give the Decamp something to chew on.

  13. The legislature approved it for the ARC project. He wants to redirect it to shore up the state’s Transportation Fund, which is in almost as sorry a state as the pension fund. You know, the one he skipped a payment on after campaigning about how previous administrations skipped their payments.

    Or did you not know that?

  14. so the last thing we’d want is to shore up our bankrupt transportation budget by redirecting money from a single tunnel, huh cro?

  15. Oh not the last thing at all!

    Why, we could shore up the pension system with that cash, by golly.

    I mean, who cares if an elected body approves an expenditure for a specific purpose?

    When you’re the governor, you can move money around wherever you want it to go, legislature be damned.

    I mean, this IS New Jersey, isn’t it?

  16. well al least you’re acknowledging the roll of the legislature in the whole thing. Backing off the “Borrow another billion without voter approval!” trope. That’s progress of a kind, I suppose.

    I’m glad to hear you’d like the funds not to be “redirected” cro. It, of course, follows then in cro-logic that this undirected transportation money go to teacher pension rather than, say, road construction and repairs.

  17. Transportation, pension, education, it’s a game of musical chairs. I have a sense stu knows when the music will stop. He’s prolly shorting NJ. In fact, how does one short NJ bonds?

  18. Oh ROC, how can you be so wrong, on so many fronts, at one time?

    The money is not “undirected”. It was specified for a purpose. I’d like to see it go to that purpose. Not to shore up transportation funds, or pension funds, or any other “special” projects.

    the “roll” (sic) of the legislature is in asking the governor for his long-term plans to fix the transportation fund, and in questioning his redirection of these funds. That is the role they are supposed to take, although apparently ROC the great libertarian would prefer that all simply accept the governor’s decision, originating as it does from a mind far greater than anyone else’s.

    The borrowed billion will come when those ARC funds have to be replaced, after they’ve “saved” the transportation fund. What particular rathole do you suppose will receive that cash bonanza?

    You are some man of the people, ROC.

    Go get ’em, Christie!

    And after you do, tell me what you did and how much it will cost!

  19. “The money is not “undirected”. It was specified for a purpose. I’d like to see it go to that purpose.”

    Or “shore up pensions” ? Rather relative eh?

    “apparently ROC the great libertarian would prefer that all simply accept the governor’s decision”

    I know it’s really hard for you to have an argument without putting words in to your opponent’s mouth but perhaps you could try? I’m perfectly comfortable with the legislature and Governor working out the issue.

    I happen to think Christie is correct and the money would be better spent on the entire transportation infrastructure and not just one tunnel.

    “The borrowed billion will come when those ARC funds have to be replaced, after they’ve “saved” the transportation fund. What particular rathole do you suppose will receive that cash bonanza/”

    Who knows but the money certainly does not belong in the teacher pension fund.

    Perhaps the ARC can be cancelled or shelved until the economy is better.

    I will say this, it makes sense to keep the existing roads in decent shape rather than plunk the first billion of 8 or 10 into a project which cannot be sustained in this climate.

    Put another way, even if you are out of a job it may make more sense to borrow to fix the leaky roof rather than borrow to build a nice new swimming pool.

    If it helps cro, I’d rather see the pension fund shored up than the new tunnel be built.

  20. How interesting that you would complain that I put words in your mouth, while then suggesting that I want the money in the teacher’s pension fund.

    If it helps, I said that I’d like to see the money go towards the project for which it was allocated. Period.

    That may be hard for you, so I’ll say it a third time. I’d like to see the money go towards the project for which it was allocated.

    Will you be fitting out for a toga to accompany Caesar to his next campaign stop?

  21. ROC

    Great post on those hardhats wasting time on the job !

    No doubt they are willfully fleecing the taxpayer! (..rather than discussing the best way to stage the concrete finishing crew when the concrete pump arrives to coat those rebars, etc.)

    Planning is stupid. Just dump the stuff and let it harden.

  22. “How interesting that you would complain that I put words in your mouth, while then suggesting that I want the money in the teacher’s pension fund.”

    you’re right. I misread this:

    “Redirect” some cash, a la the state pension funds, to cover up shortfalls!”

    As “redirect the money to make up the shortfalls” Initially missed the irony.

    Sorry about that.

  23. “You’re right. I misread this.”
    ROC

    Sit down and don’t move. I’m sending the ambulance right now.

  24. the money would be better spent on the entire transportation infrastructure and not just one tunnel.

    I wonder how many people’s lives that one tunnel would touch? I wonder how many man-hours that one tunnel would save? I wonder how many millions of dollars in tax revenue that one tunnel would generate from the increase in productivity?

  25. “I wonder how many people’s lives that one tunnel would touch? I wonder how many man-hours that one tunnel would save? I wonder how many millions of dollars in tax revenue that one tunnel would generate from the increase in productivity?”

    translation: me. me. me.

    According to wiki there are 185,000 daily commuters to NYC from NJ.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transportation_in_New_York_City#Commuting.2Fmodal_split

    14 billion dollars divided by 185,000 is $75,676 per commuter.

    hmmm?

    “increase in productivity?” indeed.

  26. It is imo, a good thing when our esteemed leaders take to evaluating monies earmarked for whatever project and the continued feasibility of each. Sure a new tunnel would ease the commute and possible generate tax revenue. But smooth roads or a new bridge might make life easier for numbers of road warriors. So the big guy is doing what he was elected to do. Look under every rock and check for worms. How refreshing!

  27. By all means, let’s have the “big guy” redirect funds and efforts away from any project he deems wasteful, regardless of whether that project was passed and funded by the elected legislature.

    Let’s really save money. We’ll scrap this whole legislative and judicial branches thing and just let Christie run the whole show.

  28. According to Bloomberg, about 10,000 of those 185,000 commuters each make an average of $2 billion a year on Wall Street. Assuming that an additional tunnel would save an hour a day in commuting time, and that the average billionaire pays a tax rate of about 10 percent, that comes to $2 billion a year in additional tax revenues.

    The other 175,000 commuters make an average of $30,000 a year and pay on average of 40 percent in taxes, which would generate another $656 million in tax revenues.

    Together, that comes to $2,656,000,000 in gains. The tunnel would pay for itself in under six years–a most worthwhile investment.

  29. ROC uses figures from Wikipedia (no more reliable source!) that factor only Hudson and Bergen counties.
    According to the Port Authority, NJ Transit had 2008 numbers of 44 million annual trips from NJ to NY.
    Do the math again.

  30. @walleroo If I read you correctly it would seem that you are suggesting all of the tax monies you mentioned would go to building a tunnel. I don’t think you meant that. And I bet those billionaires are boating or flying over the river or working in their car while a driver deals with traffic and could give two cares about another tunnel.

    @ cro Oh yes Mr NJ Big is in the hot seat and he should be checking out all promises made by other administrations. I may not agree with him on all counts but at least he’s doing his due diligence.

  31. No, DagT, I calculate the additional tax revenues that would accrue from all those hours not wasted standing around at Penn Station reading PLEASE STAND BY PLEASE STAND BY PLEASE STAND BY PLEASE STAND BY PLEASE STAND BY PLEASE STAND BY PLEASE STAND BY PLEASE STAND BY PLEASE STAND BY …

    OMG, Cro, those revised numbers push the payoff to 17 billion bucks a year. The tunnel would pay for itself by October, and thereafter the excess could be used to lower our property taxes–by about $5000 a year for the average Montclair taxpayer, I reckon.

  32. @ Walleroo yeah just like those sinful lottery funds and taxes from AC were going to go to education. Who can ya believe? It’s a puzzlement!

  33. I know Cro it’s a damn shame. The pain of it all .. the horrible pain!! And poor Mr. NJBig thinks he’s going to fix all.

  34. I’m only worried about this ARC money going somewhere mysterious because I just heard that Christie has to fill out an application to get it away from its intended target.

    While NJ and you may be perfect together, Christie and paperwork is not.

  35. @cro. You wrote: “Let’s really save money. We’ll scrap this whole legislative and judicial branches thing and just let Christie run the whole show”

    That was a joke, nicht wahr? Similar calls were made to a war hero called Hindenburg in a far far away land once upon a time not so long ago….

  36. The tunnel not only should go to Grand Central but there should be direct train lines to JFK and La Guardia.

    Let’s think big here. The money is going to be spent. Have you seen the figures Unlce Ben is floating for QE2? Bring home the pork NJ Congresspeople. That’s why we elected you.

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