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October 8, 2010

What hath Christie wrought?

by Janna Starcic - Also by this author

I know I’m not the only one upset about the news that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has killed the New Jersey-to-New York tunnel project, the ARC (Access to the Region’s Core) as it is known. To me, this project represented a huge step forward in the rebuilding of America’s transportation infrastructure. The current tunnel beneath the Hudson was built 100 years ago; do we really need to wait any longer to build another?

The existing 100-year-old tunnel under the Hudson River has only two tracks that are pushed to their functional limits each rush hour with NJ Transit and Amtrak trains. The ARC tunnel would more than double peak capacity from 23 trains per hour to 48 between New Jersey and New York; reduce roadway congestion; and generate 6,000 jobs annually during construction until project completion. The tunnel, once it entered service, would have also ultimately created 44,000 permanent jobs in the region, according to ex-NJ Transit Executive Director Richard Sarles in a 2009 article.

I am frustrated that Gov. Christie is being so shortsighted and apparently using this project’s costs to make a political stance. While he says that New Jersey can’t afford to build this tunnel, I say they can’t afford not to. 

I’m just hoping the Republican gubernatorial candidates in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin don’t succeed in pulling a “Christie” if elected, by terminating high-speed rail projects in their respective states.

Janna Starcic

Executive Editor

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  • aa[ October 11th, 2010 @ 5:54am ]

    Go Christie! This is a perfect example of why the American people are fed up with a media that simply doesn't get it. The government never has and never will "CREATE JOBS". When will we realize this. Any money the government has came from us. If businesses aren't making money and individuals aren't making money then government isn't making money. "We can't afford not to"? I understand the concept of spending some money now in order to make money later, but how exactly would this project do that? Sounds to me more like it creates 44,000 more mouths to feed! Is the current system ideal? No. But for crying out loud, you can't spend what you don't have! My 6 year old even understands that. Fortunately so does Christie.

  • Ed[ October 11th, 2010 @ 6:49am ]

    Take a step back and see if you are blaming the messenger. Politics, while playing a vital role in transit policy, is a double edged sword and in this case, the Governor has made it clear to the people impacted that NJ doesn't have a bottomless pit of funding to make up the difference in budget over runs. It would be better to criticize how the budget was determined and go after the driving reasons for the budget overflows. Not having the money to fund a project and cancelling it as a result should not be a partisan matter but it sadly has become one. It takes a strong leader to make decisions that impact the economic growth of the region but it takes an even stronger one to stop a vicious cycle of spending funds on something that from present appearances will go over budget. The Governor does not gain points here by putting people out of work and shelving the tunnel, but he should for stopping a funding mess. Also, bringing together ARC, a needed second tunnel to connect two legacy rail infrastructures, and high speed rail is a stretch and needlessly broad-strokes candidates. Do you really know what any politician is thinking? What happens if a Democrat decides to cancel a high speed rail project instead? Without Friday’s report, there is a tremendous amount of debate concerning high speed rail planning. If they are elected, politicians should be trusted to make the right decisions. If they don’t have the same appeal at the end of their term, they won’t be reelected.

  • K[ October 11th, 2010 @ 9:37am ]

    Is it remotely possible the state does not have the funds available to build the tunnel and someone must make the "tough" decision? Is it possible that despite the fact that every project can or may eventually have economic benefits, someone must say no to some projects. Instead of simply criticizing the Governor, can you suggest what should be cut so the tunnel can be built? Eventually, few states will be in any position to invest in their infrastructure as social programs and state employment will capture all of the taxes the residents of the State are willing to pay. The European vision so many in the US envy may soon come to pass. The reality is instead of "yes we can" it may actually be "no we can't;" especially if we must actually pay for it!

  • Badar Zulqarni[ October 11th, 2010 @ 10:58am ]

    I think it is a great project to still consider pursuing. Perhaps, all stake-holders should get together and value engineer the project and come up with the creative ways to finance it. I understand that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood met with Governor Christie. Secretary LaHood says New Jersey's governor has agreed to take the next two weeks to rethink his decision to cancel a massive NJ-NY rail tunnel project. Let us see what happens.

  • John[ October 11th, 2010 @ 6:27pm ]

    Ray LaHood is a Republican ... at least he claims to be. Turns out it's not Democrats "for" and Republicans "against", as the Editor implies. It's more like Fiscal Conservatives "against" and Wasteful Big Government Spenders "for". If LaHood was a Fiscal Conservative, he wouldn't be a part of Obama's cabinet. That's for sure. Rail makes much less sense in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin than it does in NJ. I predict the voters in those states will elect Scott, Kasich and Walker, sending a clear message to Obama and LaHood.

  • Bob Foley[ October 12th, 2010 @ 5:51am ]

    Why should the taxpayers of New Jersey foot the bill for the cost overun on this project. The biggest benefactor will be the city of New Youk, who buy the way collects a huge sum from thier wage tax on NJ residents. Why doesn't that guy in washington pony us the addtional cost, you know that guy with the big ears (And mouth)This would benefit AMTRAK as well as NJ Transit.

  • Railman[ October 13th, 2010 @ 4:26am ]

    Christie has done the right thing. Unbeknowst to the public the project had been spiraling out of control since it started receiving federal funds. FTA has done so much to assist NJ Transit but all NJ Transit did was scream cry and lie about evrything. 18 months ago the Feds found out through review and analysis that the real project cost was already at $12B. Someone talked Politics right well Politics is more than a double edgd sword my friend and Politics forced the FTA into agreeing to $9 B back then. During the Month Shutdown the Feds went back in and found the cost had grown from the $9 B to $15 B. If we remember the project started out at $6 B and has grown 210% in as little as 3 years. So what makes anyone think the project won't continue to grow. All you have to do is look in NYC at SAS & ESA and see that costs will climb. And the issue is not stakeholders getting together. That's all that occurs is stakeholders getting together. If the prime does does not want to play no amount of discussion will be fruitfull. Both with NJ Transit & NY MTA the issues relate back to poor management, bad management decisions, management no involved at the appropriate levels and management decisions made to late in the process. Transit Agencies are like Onions, they have many layers and continue to stink as you get to the heart.


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Author Bio

Janna Starcic

Executive Editor

Alex Roman

Managing Editor

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