After weeks of speculation, Governor Chris Christie announced his decision yesterday to cancel the $8.7 billion ARC Tunnel Project. This move came after the ARC Executive Steering Committee informed him that the project could cost New Jersey taxpayers an additional $2-5 million, recommending “immediate and orderly shutdown.” At a Trenton news conference, Governor Christie stated, “The only prudent move is to end this project. I can’t put taxpayers on a never-ending hook.” He ended the project despite urging from Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
The cancellation of the project has disappointed many: Hudson County residents, legislators, environmental groups, transportation advocates, and long-time supporters of the project-Senators Bob Menendez and Frank Lautenberg. Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise stated, “[i]t’s a devastating blow for our region.
Senator Menendez has claimed that Governor Christie has been “intent on killing the tunnel,” regardless of the consequences. According to Menendez:
The governor’s public statements portray surprise and uncertainty about cost estimates, but it’s hard to understand how he has so little control of and information about a project that is directed by his own administration. It would seem that a more sensible and level-headed approach on behalf of New Jersey workers, commuters and taxpayers would be to take a deep breath, work with all of the parties involved to identify ways to reign in the costs and get the tunnel built.
Senator Lautenberg’s sentiments mirrored those of Menendez:
Without increased transportation options into Manhattan, New Jersey’s economy will eventually be crippled. The Governor has sentenced New Jersey to a future of insufficient access to New York City, fewer job opportunities, and lower home values.
In discussing the impact on the thousands of citizens affected by the move, Senator Lautenberg also stated that the Governor, “should be talking to the people who are out there stuck in their cars in the morning wanting to go to work. Or the families who are worried about the air their kids breathe.”
Although supporters of the decision feel that it may save taxpayers money in the long-term, it will cost the state money now. The move will cause New Jersey to lose $3 billion in federal funding, and it may have to return the $300 million already invested in the project.