Future of $8.7B New Jersey ARC Project is Uncertain

Governor Chris Christie's moratorium on new contracts may signal trouble even though construction is underway.
September 20, 2010, 6am PDT | Tim Halbur
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With project cost overruns mounting and his state's Transportation Trust Fund near bankruptcy, Christie mandated a 30-day shutdown of the ARC tunnel project earlier this week. He expressed doubts over New Jersey's ability to fund its $2.7 billion commitment to the project, which would expand NJ Transit's capacity to shuttle suburban commuters into New York. Christie argued that drivers are being asked to shoulder an unfair cost burden compared to transit users.

Though the current shutdown is temporary, the state's next steps remain unclear. Cancelling the project would mean forfeiting $3 billion in federal money, the most ever committed to a single transit project. The fate of an additional $3 billion promised by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has not been publicly discussed.

Yonah Freemark suggests the delay means weakening political support for the project. He writes: "For the state's commuters, this lack of will to find the means to fund the proposal will result in years more of long travel times and little relief for the overbooked North River Tunnel, whose two tracks simply aren't enough to carry all the NJ Transit commuter and Amtrak intercity trains the New York area needs to remain economically competitive."

Thanks to Lynn Vande Stouwe

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Published on Friday, September 17, 2010 in the transport politic
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