Gov. Christie pulls plug on mass transit project

Determining that his cash-strapped state cannot afford the escalating costs of a mega-mass transit project,  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie boldly canceled an 8.8-mile commuter rail tunnel under the Hudson River that would have linked New Jersey and New York City.

Work on the tunnel project began last spring, but the federal government estimated that the original $8.7 billion price tag could balloon to as much as $14 billion when Christie pulled the plug less than a month after he stopped work on the Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) project after giving his staff and federal transportation officials time to review cost estimates.

This “is just not a financially viable project that we can responsibly move forward,” Christie said in a statement. The governor recently made national headlines when he took on unions and the state legislature to close an $11 billion state budget deficit.

“I will not allow taxpayers to fund projects that run over budget with no clear way of how these costs will be paid for,” a defiant Christie said.

The ARC tunnel was to be funded by the Federal Transit Administration, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the State of New Jersey– which would have been responsible for any cost overruns.  New Jersey must now reimburse the federal government for $300 million that has already been spent on the project.

The news comes on the heels of a projected $1.35 billion increase in capital costs for Phase 2 of Dulles Rail.  The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is managing the mass transit project, has still not explained why cost estimates have jumped 54 percent since the project was approved.

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