Home ARC Tunnel Gov. Christie officially kills ARC Tunnel

Gov. Christie officially kills ARC Tunnel

by Benjamin Kabak

Despite reports yesterday that the ARC Tunnel could be saved, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced this afternoon that the state will be canceling the trans-Hudson project amidst concerns that the real costs of the project will far exceed the current $8.7-billion. As the federal government has told New Jersey that the state must cover any cost overruns, Christie, as we learned earlier this week, did not believe New Jersey could foot that bill. The $3 billion New Jersey had earmarked for this project will go toward other transportation projects, including a mix of road and rail investments.

While speaking in Trenton this afternoon, Christie issued the following statement: ““The ARC project costs far more than New Jersey taxpayers can afford and the only prudent move is to end this project. There is no doubt that transportation projects are critical to creating jobs and growing our economy. I have asked Commissioner Simpson and Executive Director Weinstein to work with all interested parties – Amtrak, the Federal Transit Administration, the Port Authority, the State and City of New York and our Congressional delegation – to explore approaches to modernize and expand capacity for the Northeast Corridor. However, any future project must recognize the regional and national scale of such an effort and work within the scope of the State’s current fiscal and economic realities.”

Paul Krugman is not amused. Details to come.

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Phil October 7, 2010 - 2:03 pm

As I said 30 days ago this thing was doomed. What a short sighted move.

Hopefully that federal money can get moved over to help SAS, Moynihan, 7 Extension, ESA, etc.

Marc Shepherd October 7, 2010 - 2:55 pm

Now there are reports that Christie and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood are meeting tomorrow. The best scenario is that the “cancellation” is merely a posture intended to get other people to accept any cost overruns.

There are reasons to believe this could be the case, as the promised Federal money would probably not remain in New Jersey, and in fact the state would need to pay back (with interest) hundreds of millions already spent.

oscar October 7, 2010 - 3:41 pm

that would be a slick move by Christie if true

Brandi October 7, 2010 - 2:25 pm

What an idiot. Just shows how he is the typical politician willing to do anything for a vote. Might as well pass the problems on to our grandchildren like we do with lots of our other problems. Hopefully the federal money will be sent to someone who will actually do some good with it. Bad day for the future of mobility in the region.

Edward October 7, 2010 - 2:30 pm

New Jersey Transit trains to Penn Station. PATH trains to World Trade and Midtown. Two auto tunnels and one bridge to Manhattan. Ferries to Weehawken and Hoboken. I think the residents of NJ are pretty well served as far as getting to Manhattan. If you transit nerds actually want to foot the extra bill for the projected cost overruns, go right ahead. Of course, 9/10ths of you don’t even live in Jersey and wont pay a penny for the cost of the tunnel, but that doesn’t matter now, does it?

DMIJohn October 7, 2010 - 3:00 pm

Every citizen of the U.S. that pays taxes was going to pay for one-third of the tunnel’s cost.

Edward October 7, 2010 - 3:13 pm

…and any cost overruns where to be paid by the residents of New Jersey and New Jersey alone. Which is the reason why the Gov took the fiscally responsible action and halted the project. Should NJ just print up its own money to help pay the estimated $5b in cost overruns, in a day and age when most states are hemorrhaging money?

Bolwerk October 7, 2010 - 6:34 pm

And now New Jersey is going to be stuck with poor transportation access because it can’t keep costs under control.

I’m not sure why New York should be expected to pay for New Jersey’s transportation needs – or why Amtrak should be forced to give up room for expansion to accommodate New Jersey Transit.

Bolwerk October 8, 2010 - 1:34 pm

In a way, but not really. Given New Jersey’s deficit in spending it gets back from the feds vs. taxes it pays, it was mostly just a question of New York and New Jersey getting some of their own money back.

Al D October 7, 2010 - 3:13 pm

If NJians are pretty well served as far as getting to Manhattan, then please explain why:

Of 3 NJians I know:

1. My friend can wait for 60 to 90 minutes to cross the GWB
2. My colleague regularly is delayed in the Lincoln Tunnel Bus Lane
3. My other colleague is routinely delayed by 1 thing or another on the NE corridor line.

As you said, they are all well served New Jerseyians.

Edward October 7, 2010 - 3:16 pm

Wow, Al, you know a whole THREE people from NJ? That’s more than most folks in NYC. Maybe if you move to the Garden State, start paying a busload of taxes, and then try commuting to NYC, we can take your arguments seriously.

Al D October 7, 2010 - 3:25 pm

Been there, done all that thanks very much. Resided and toiled in the Etat du Jardin for 4 years.

Kid Twist October 7, 2010 - 2:32 pm

It was a bad project. If he were a “typical politician,” he’d have foisted this boondoggle onto the taxpayers, taken credit for “doing something,” and then left it to our grandkids to pay the bills.

Paul Krugman … didn’t he used to be an economist?

Edward October 7, 2010 - 2:34 pm

Yes, Krugman was an economist before he drank too much of whine. Maybe he can pitch in some of his very high salary working at NYT and ABC News and help pay for the tunnel.

Al D October 7, 2010 - 3:08 pm

I contribute. I call it federal taxes, and I live in NYC.

Edward October 7, 2010 - 3:18 pm

But you wouldn’t pay a penny toward the estimate $5 billion in overruns. That would fall on the residents of NJ, which is the whole point of Gov Christie’s action, no?

Al D October 7, 2010 - 3:44 pm

This is just an estimate, nobody knows for certain. It’s like asking any hypothetical question. What if the Pulaski Skyway fell down? Should only those who use it pay for the replacement?

Jay October 7, 2010 - 2:36 pm

Edward, you dont know what the hell you are talking about. I live in NJ and have had the headache of using all the modes of tranportation sans the ferry and again you dont know what the hell you are talking about. PATH is practically standing room only during peak rush hour so is NJ TRANSIT and the tunnels and bridges – forget about it. We need this tunnel to help relieve congestion and take some of the cars off the road.

Edward October 7, 2010 - 2:39 pm

So are you willing to part with an extra few thousand dollars in taxes to pay for it? If so, call the governor and have at it. If Christie raised your taxes above the already nationwide high that they are current at, you’d have a fit and want to vote him out of office. Take your pick, gang. The days of having it both ways are over.

DMIJohn October 7, 2010 - 2:52 pm

I pick higher taxes. Many developed countries have higher taxes and also have better public infrastructure, better health outcomes, lower poverty, more time for friends and family, and generally a higher quality of life. This aversion to taxes is bankrupting the country and the infrastructure is crumbling around us. If you’re happy living off of the hard work and investments in infrastructure earlier generations made, then go at it. But I refuse to be a part of the “can’t do”, lazy generation whose primary interest is lower taxes. And for what?

Edward October 7, 2010 - 3:08 pm

You seem to forget that just about all our major infrastructure (other than the federal highway system and PA/MTA bridges) was built by PRIVATE companies using PRIVATE funds to pay for them, hence the big-bucks projects such as Penn and Grand Central stations, the Hell Gate Bridge, PATH trains, etc. If costs overran (and they did), the company would foot the bill and pass it on to its customers, not the entire state.

Benjamin Kabak October 7, 2010 - 3:16 pm

Edward, You’re oversimplifying. Every single one of those projects you just listed were built with government subsidies either in the form of monopoly rights or via tax breaks, and every single one of those projects — with the exception of the MTA bridges which were not built privately — had to be taken over by the government when they were in danger of failing. If you view public transit as a public good, the fares can’t be high enough to generate a profit only on fare box revenue, and the government has to step.

That too is oversimplifying because even though private contractors may have built big-ticket items, and the cities and states often had direct control over fare policies and the like. You’re re-writing history because you don’t want to pay higher taxes.

Edward October 7, 2010 - 3:20 pm

You live in Jersey Ben?

Gary October 7, 2010 - 4:33 pm

Raise the NJ gas tax – 3rd lowest in the nation. I lived in NJ for 30 years and regularly travel from NY to NJ to visit family.

The congestion at choke points has become overwhelming on a good day, not to mention the danger we face from a lack of redundancy in case of disaster, be it natural, intentional, or accidental.

Edward = mendacious, ignorant shill for the GOP and Chris Christie. Go hurl your feces in the NJ.com comment sections where someone might believe you.

Edward October 7, 2010 - 10:37 pm

Except that I’m a card-carrying Democrat since 1985. But if you feel better putting me into some preconceived box, go right ahead. Suffice it to say that people spending money they don’t have is what got us ALL (Dem, GOP, Independent) into the financial mess our country is drowning in.

Edward October 7, 2010 - 3:19 pm

I do like transit. But the fact is, I don’t live in NJ, and the times I do go to NJ, I take the bus over the George Washington Bridge or ride in a relatives car.

Whether or not a new tunnel is needed from NJ to NYC is really up to the state of NJ and its voters. If it costs too much, yes, they do have the right to cancel it. I notice know one blames the contractors for charging too much money. Maybe if they would lower their fees in order to help out with the cost overruns, the governor wouldn’t cancel it.

But to tell you the truth, if they were going to build a new NY/NJ tunnel, why to Penn Station? Why not to downtown Manhattan, a place where NJ transit doesn’t directly serve?

Justin October 7, 2010 - 3:20 pm

Guys, forgive me, that comment was me. I was in hurry and typed in Edward’s name instead of my own. Apologies.

Edward October 7, 2010 - 3:21 pm

You scared me Justin! I though I typed up a response and then forgot about it. I may be getting old and cranky, but not THAT old!

Bolwerk October 7, 2010 - 6:39 pm

Well, if they’re going to blow that kind of money, it would make more sense to go to the east side of Midtown – where people probably want to go anyway.

Downtown is well-served by PATH. Midtown’s west side would see plenty of capacity cleared if new infrastructure went east (and I don’t necessarily mean to GCT).

Jay October 7, 2010 - 2:53 pm

Edward, get a grip. Your taxes go to pay for a myriad of things on the local, state, and federal level. People always complain about taxes buy that’s one thing your going to do until you die and FYI most likely your taxes were going to go up with or without ARC because NY and NJ are broke.

Al D October 7, 2010 - 3:16 pm

You are correct. You cannot continue to keep your gas tax ridiculously low and have proper road and rail maintenance. So your state has elected to enable driving even though your main roads are ridiculously clogged at peak hours.

Al D October 7, 2010 - 3:17 pm

Do you oppose sir the NJ Tpke widening? After all, its costs precious tax dollars.

Why isn’t Christie canning this project and the Garden State Parkway expansion?

Isn’t that too a superfluous tax dollar expenditure for a state with no $?

Eric F. October 7, 2010 - 4:50 pm

For those up in the cheap seats:

Turnpike widening and GSP widening are 100% TOLL FINANCED. Plus another $1.25 billion in tolls was going to this tunnel. Look it up.

Al D October 7, 2010 - 5:17 pm

Oh, so there IS money out there after all!

Douglas John Bowen October 7, 2010 - 2:47 pm

Yes, indeed, we need “A” tunnel, a project better than T.H.E. Tunnel as it evolved, one that serves folks within the region, one that has the potential to grow–and not just something serving only “commuter” needs to/from New Jersey. The original ARC offered that potential; this one simply did not.

We understand Paul Krugman’s sentiments, but in this case the esteemed correspondent is the one with short(er)-term vision.

At least some of us New Jersey rail advocates will shoot for something better.

Jay October 7, 2010 - 2:51 pm

We do need a tunnel to Manhattan but the original alternative could not hold up from an engineering standpoint. With subway tunnels, utilities, not to mention the need for hard-solid stable rock the current preferred tunnel and station was the only alternative.. Yes tt would be nice to goto Grand Central but alot of things underground would have made that project cost prohibitive.

Alon Levy October 7, 2010 - 8:18 pm

Wrong. The original alternative held up fine, until agency turf killed it. The engineering challenge was about adding tail tracks to Alt P (impossible because of the water tunnel), not about the Penn-Grand Central connection.

J October 7, 2010 - 3:20 pm

Well, maybe this will allow a better design for the next incarnation. In the mean time, enjoy your sprawl, NJ! You made your bed by electing this moron, now you have to sleep in it. Enjoy continuing to sit in traffic, albeit on well-paved roads, thanks to Mr. Christie.

Edward October 7, 2010 - 3:31 pm

As opposed to NYC and state, a car-free, low-tax, business-friendly Utopia? I love how residents of NYC talk about “sprawl” as if NYC was as compact as Philly or Boston. Try driving from the Bronx to Staten Island and then tell us about sprawl. Two hours over horrible, crowded roads. Or better yet, take a subway/bus/ferry/bus for a good three hours. Better bring a good book.

Alon Levy October 7, 2010 - 8:19 pm

New York is a larger city than Philadelphia and Boston. Where it counts, it sprawls less: it’s much denser, and has a far higher level of mass transit use. Greater New York has a 30% transit mode share; Greater Philly and Greater Boston have a 10% share.

Al D October 7, 2010 - 3:51 pm

According to:


NYC is more dense than Boston or Philly.

Curiously, those little NJ villages right across the river top the list.

Judge October 7, 2010 - 4:07 pm

It’s not just the whole of New York City, but each of the boroughs, sans Staten Island, have considerably higher densities than any US county or major city. Of course that’s not to say it’s all uniform – compare Astoria to Bayside in Queens – or well planned, but much of that sprawl is quite urban in the context of suburban sprawl; municipal boundaries are merely arbitrary limits to specific legal institutions.

Edward October 7, 2010 - 4:20 pm

True. But which state, out of the 50 states, has the highest density of any in the union? Why, that would be…NEW JERSEY! So much for suburban sprawl.

Eric F. October 7, 2010 - 4:53 pm

This is a silly point anyway. The tunnel is designed to speed suburban commutes. I like the idea of a new tunnel, but the idea that it would somehow limit sprawl is silly. The commuter rail systems facilitate sprawled development. If you want to end sprawl, you need to build a wall between your jobs and where you don’t want people to live (or put ina river), but tunneling to the jobs facilitates the sprawl.

Al D October 7, 2010 - 5:15 pm

At this the rate this is going, we’ll be talking about the most densely populated planet in the universe!

Alon Levy October 7, 2010 - 8:27 pm

New York has higher perceived density than New Jersey.

Andrew October 7, 2010 - 9:29 pm

That’s because most of New York is rural. Delaware County, NY is very low-density but it certainly isn’t sprawl.

Al D October 7, 2010 - 5:14 pm

Fiscally conservative Christie loses $3.4bn in federal funding. And that’s only the funding that we know of!

Joe October 7, 2010 - 9:27 pm

While the tunnel had its flaws (only serving 6 new tracks), there were talks of someday extending the NJT cavern to the GCT area. This would have made it a little more than a 6 track access point.

Alon Levy October 8, 2010 - 12:06 am

6 tracks are enough. The problem is not track space; it’s the lack of connection to anything.

The cavern couldn’t be extended to GCT without finishing Water Tunnel 3 first: its depth puts it too close to Water Tunnel 1. Worse, it would be very difficult if possible to extend to subsurface Grand Central, taking people to Metro-North territory; it could only be easily extended to the ESA cavern, which would lead only to Long Island, where trains can go today using the existing tunnels.

Zmapper October 8, 2010 - 1:11 am

What about a tunnel under ~65th street and Central Park? That way the underutilized tracks at GCT can be used to full capacity. Do you know if this is even possible?

Alon Levy October 8, 2010 - 1:37 am

All three alternatives of ARC involve trains stopping in or near Penn Station, at 34th. There’s no point in going north to 65th and then south to 42nd.

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[…] Chris Christie officially killed the ARC Tunnel, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood requested a meeting with the New Jersey governor. This […]

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[…] Gov. Christie officially kills ARC Tunnel (Oct. 7) […]

joedee October 29, 2010 - 9:02 pm

2 words “Big Dig” $22Billion (with interest)
Your children will pay and pay and pay!!
Your grand children will be born into govt slavery.
13 trillion and growing! Because they never pay it off.
They just roll it over and sell more govt bonds to pay the interest!!!
Until the interest is the whole budget.
Don’t tell me “tax the rich”
If you confiscated 100% of the rich’s income it won’t be enough!!
That’s how much they are spending.


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