Trenton, NJ – Today, Governor Chris Christie released the following statement regarding the settlement between the State of New Jersey and the Federal Transportation Administration:
“I am pleased to announce that we have negotiated a good-faith settlement with the Federal Transportation Administration that puts the interests of New Jersey taxpayers first by substantially reducing the federal government’s original demand. The 5-year payment schedule on a $95 million settlement – which contains not one additional dollar of New Jersey taxpayer money – would be offset by more than $100 million in insurance premium refunds. This represents a fraction of the federal government’s initial claim and won’t cost New Jerseyans any additional money, which would otherwise go to infrastructure improvements. I want to thank U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and his staff for their good-faith efforts in working with us and putting the interest of New Jersey taxpayers ahead of politics. I also want to thank New Jersey Transit and Executive Director Jim Weinstein for their commitment to working toward this settlement.”
Trenton, NJ – Today, Governor Chris Christie accepted the recommendation of NJ Transit Executive Director Jim Weinstein to continue the orderly and expeditious shutdown of the ARC Project. Despite intense negotiations with federal and state participants, no agreement was reached on terms that would assure New Jersey’s taxpayers would not pay more than $2.7 billion for a completed Trans Hudson Express ARC project.
Frank Pallone Jr.Disappointed to hear Governor plans to cancel ARC tunnel at a time when New Jersey needs more mass transit options.
Well, if Pallone had any clout in Washington after 22 years, maybe he could have gotten the Feds to cover the cost over runs on the project. Or maybe he could have gotten his friends in the New York delegation to lean on Albany to contribute their fair share to a project that would have benefited New York more than it would have helped NJ anyway. Think of all those tax dollars New Jersey residents would have been paying to New York after we spent $15 billion dollars to give them a way to leave the state to go to work.
As our friend Harold Kane, the next Middlesex County Clerk, pointed out last week, New Jersey has 40 million square feet of vacant office space. What do we need to spend billions of dollars to send people to work in New York for?
Christie did the right thing and come Tuesday Pallone is going to be despondent.
In the editorial page of October 12 Paul Mulshine, correctly, continued to question the ARC rail tunnel. Inadvertently, the Star Ledger business section supported Mr. Mulshine’s position.The business section (page 7) stated that there is almost 40M square feet of office space available in NJ. 40M square feet of space will support 200,000 employees, at an average of 200 square feet per employee. The ARC supporters refuse to consider that NJ residents would actually prefer to work near their homes in NJ, rather than commute to NYC. Even if they had to take a pay cut to work near home, it would be worth it. As a former commuter I can make this statement.
Governor Christie was correct to cancel the tunnel. It will be New Jersey’s version of Boston’s “Big Dig”. One major difference between the two projects is that Massachusetts was forced to pay the lion’s share of the cost as the cost spiked from $8B to $24B. But, in this case the benefit accrued to Massachusetts and the Mass. construction unions. In the case of the ARC tunnel all of the benefits accrue to NYC, with NJ getting the cost overrun tab. If you do not think that there will be cost overruns, then you know nothing about construction-related activities in NYC.
New Jersey needs to get out of this 1960s mindset that states that anything that the public sector proposes has merit and must be done. A great first step in this direction would be to stand by the decision to cancel the tunnel and to implement tax and economic policies designed to fill up these 4M square feet of empty space.
Harold V. Kane is the GOP candidate for Middlesex County Clerk
Gov. Chris Christie’s announcement Thursday that he was pulling the plug on a new Hudson River rail tunnel that had been more than a decade in the planning stages was his latest in a line of “my way or the highway” decrees.
It is a pattern that is increasingly jeopardizing New Jersey’s ability to work collaboratively with others — its neighbors, public employee unions and members of the opposite political party — to address the short- and long-term challenges facing the state.
If New Jersey wanted a governor to work collaboratively with our neighbors, public employee unions and Democrats, the crew that got us into the fiscal mess we are in, we would have reelected Jon Corzine. Yes, even our neighbors, Pennsylvania and New York who, until Christie came along, have been fleecing New Jersey with glee.
Had the Nudniks of Neptune bothered to read their own columnist, Bob Ingle, since before former Governor Corzine broke ground on the ARC tunnel they would know that the project is an ill-concieved boondoggle that does not connect to New York’s major transportation hubs and that New Jersey taxpayers are bearing the lions share of the costs, while New York is not contributing a penny.
Christie killed the project because New Jersey taxpayers could be on the hook for between $2 and $6 billion dollars in cost overruns, in addition to the $3 billion, plus our share of the Port Authority’s contribution, that we are already on the hook for. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LeHood appealed to Christie for time to review options to reinstate the project. Christie gave him two weeks. I’m looking forward to the Neptune Nudnik’s editorial after LeHood announces that the feds will cover the cost overruns or that New York is contributing to the project.
If LeHood comes up with an acceptable solution to the financial inequities of the project, Christie should insist upon an evalution of the wisdom of building a tunnel that ends 150 feet below Macy’s, rather than a tunnel that could be built in partnership with Amtrak that would end at Penn/Moynihan Station before he commits billions of New Jersey’s dollars to the project.
If the Neptune Nudniks don’t want to be informed by one of their own, maybe they will learn from the Star Ledger which has an excellent article on the controversy.