The Federal Transit Administration, as I reported earlier this week, is demanding $271 million in ARC Tunnel money in the wake of Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to cancel the project, and New Jersey isn’t happy with the request. Right now, the state and its elected officials are looking at two possible outs. On the one hand, New Jersey’s federal representatives are looking to reduce the amount owed. “We have to talk to the FTA to mitigate that amount,” Senator Robert Menendez said. “We find that the governor made a decision, and we’re told to go and fix it. We’ll do the best we can.”
On the other hand, the state will authorize New Jersey Transit to file suit against the feds. New Jersey, reports Jason Method, “plans to argue that the federal government is using selective enforcement in attempting to recoup the money.” Said a Christie spokesman, “The governor will fight to make sure that New Jersey and its taxpayers are treated fairly by the federal government on this issue.”
In requesting payment, the FTA cited Section 5309(g)(3)(B)(iv) of Title 49 of the U.S. Code. That law governs FTA grants and reads, “If an applicant does not carry out the project for reasons within the control of the applicant, the applicant shall repay all Government payments made under the work agreement plus reasonable interest and penalty charges the Secretary establishes in the agreement.” If a suit is filed, the feds will argue that since New Jersey agreed to cover cost overruns, Christie’s decision to cancel the project due to concerns over cost is “within the control of the applicant.” Clearly, this drama is far from over.