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.