Home ARC Tunnel Déjà vu: Christie to kill ARC Tunnel again again

Déjà vu: Christie to kill ARC Tunnel again again

by Benjamin Kabak

Despite an obvious need, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is set to pull the plug on the ARC Tunnel. (Image via Infrastructurist.

For New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the future of the ARC Tunnel is all about money. He fears the project will come in well overbudget; he wants more guaranteed federal money for this massive infrastructure investment; and he’s not going to let it go forward until he gets his dollars. Later today, according to numerous reports, Christie will announce that he and the feds are at a funding impasse, and he will again kill the project.

“It’s all about the money,” Christie said yesterday, and the past two week’s politicking is a sure sign of that. Christie first called the project into question in early September when he ordered a review of the budget. After not quite reviewing the budget but simply pondering federal projections, Christie canceled the tunnel on Oct. 7. Under pressure from the feds, who had already committed $3 billion to the project, he promised a two-week review, but the writing was on the wall. On Friday, the federal cost projections, showing potential overruns of up to $4 billion, leaked, and the project’s fate was all but sealed.

According to The Star-Ledger, the feds know it’s all about the money. Sources close to the governor allege that Ray LaHood and his staff “offered to improve the financing terms but committed no new money.” Without the additional funds, Christie could not commit a financially-troubled state to the build. Barring a last-minute reprieve, ARC, the country’s biggest public-works project, will die.

The New Jersey-based paper has a bit more on the decision:

Washington transportation planners have been “aggressive” in trying to convince the governor to reinstate the tunnel project and have offered alternate financing and the possibility of scaling back parts of the mammoth trans-Hudson undertaking, the officials said. But Christie has been emphatic that he wants more money from other sources — like the federal government — and, without that, he would have no reason to change his original plan.

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) released a statement blasting the governor’s decision: “The federal government, at my urging, presented Gov. Christie with a number of financing options that would limit and even eliminate New Jersey’s responsibility to pay for cost overruns on the ARC Tunnel. The federal government demonstrated its strong commitment to building this tunnel, but it was clear from the beginning that Gov. Christie planned to kill this project no matter what.”

Money, money, money. It’s a common theme here. Someone wants money, and the same someone doesn’t have money. That someone also needs to find money to restore his state’s broke Transportation Trust Fund, and what better way to do so than by canceling a giant tunnel out of New Jersey that has garnered only lukewarm support from many of the Garden State’s transit advocates? And so the ARC will die, and twenty years of planning will be flushed down the drain.

There are, of course, many solutions Christie could have pursued. He could have worked with the feds to cut down on the costs of the project. He could have started building it and, if he’s still the governor when the time comes, simply ordered to stop when the money ran out. At that point, the state would have more leverage to negotiate with the feds over completion funds. He could have figured out a way to, as the feds seemed to have offered, bond more money out of it. After all, a new tunnel that increases capacity is the perfect bond project because it will generate massive amounts of revenue that will go toward bond payments six or seven years down the line. He did not.

So New York’s economy and New Jersey’s economy loses out. The meager tunnel underneath the Hudson River in use by New Jersey Transit trains will remain the sole access point to the city, and trains will remain crowded. Too many cars will try to drive in from Jersey, and commuters who have seen train crowds more than double over the last 12 years will find space and comfort at a premium.

Who knows when a project of this scope will next get off the drawing board? The next iteration of the ARC Tunnel should address the concerns of those who worry about the deep cavern and the lack of integration with Amtrak. The next iteration of the ARC Tunnel will also require even more money than this one. Even as the project promises to improve commute times and increase property values, it will die the death of cost overruns. After all, it’s all about the money, and the money just isn’t there.

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Dennis October 27, 2010 - 6:23 am

The Feds should be put up the money and build it if they want it. This is an ill-conceived, poorly designed boondoggle that will thankfully be avoided. “Improving the finance terms” is what got us into this mess.

Benjamin Kabak October 27, 2010 - 9:49 am

Not every public project with a big price tag is a boondoggle. Only one aspect of this project — the terminal in Manhattan — is ill-conceived, and if you think this isn’t a necessary project, try commuting to and from New Jersey on a regular basis. The region needs better access to the job center, and now they’re not going to get it until who knows when.

Marc Shepherd October 27, 2010 - 10:33 am

Bear in mind that nobody advanced a serious proposal to resume the project with a different Manhattan terminal. (I am not counting editorials, message boards, and so forth, as “serious,” whatever their merits may be.) Years of engineering studies and designs led to the current “ill-conceived” proposal. A different result would probably require a delay, no matter what.

If it is true, as Sen. Lautenberg claims, that Gov. Christie was presented with options that would have eliminated New Jersey’s cost overrun liability, he ought to make them public, so that we can all judge what Christie was really saying no to.

Eric F. October 27, 2010 - 11:13 am

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Basically, nothing in substance changed in two weeks.

Alon Levy October 27, 2010 - 4:21 pm

The alternatives analysis fielded two different Manhattan configurations – Alts S and G.

Marc Shepherd October 27, 2010 - 4:35 pm

Alternative G was rejected several years ago. To adopt it now would mean discarding all of the design work done since then, and re-doing that work with very different assumptions. You cannot just pick up the pieces and resume Alt G as if it had been in the plans all along.

That is what I meant, when I said that a different Manhattan Terminal would probably require a substantial delay. (Not that I disagree with you that G should have been chosen from the get-go.)

Bolwerk October 28, 2010 - 10:45 am

A delay would be an intellectually honest position for Christie. If he argued, NJ should choose this alternative, or find some way to through run into the new LIRR terminal (preserving the deep bore aspect), it would be reasonable to accept the delay.

This project has problems, but Christie isn’t cost cutting. He’s dick swinging.

Alon Levy October 28, 2010 - 10:54 pm

How significant has the Alt P cavern design work been, anyway? So far the actual construction done has all been on the Jersey side, which is the same no matter which alternative is chosen.

Chris October 27, 2010 - 11:13 am

One thing I’ve found interesting about this project is the apparent view that New Jersey policy should continue to focus on moving people into another state to work, rather than on bringing the jobs over into New Jersey where the people live. To me the most likely outcome of people not being able to travel effectively from Jersey to Manhattan is more jobs coming from Manhattan to New Jersey.

Bolwerk October 27, 2010 - 12:26 pm

This ignores why New Jersey is so relatively prosperous in the first place. Such jobs probably aren’t going to move from Manhattan to New Jersey so easily without that tunnel. Continued access to the city is probably a big deal for many, many industries.

And don’t forget a lot that can’t move so easily, like the entire infrastructure Manhattan has dedicated to the entertainment of white collar types.

Stewart Clamen October 27, 2010 - 3:27 pm

Some Wall St. jobs have been relocated to Jersey City. But Manhattan remains a huge magnet.

I think the way to think about it is not as “sending NJ folk to Manhattan to work and pay income tax”, but rather “attracting people who work in Manhattan to live in NJ rather than LI or Westchester”

Bolwerk October 28, 2010 - 10:50 am

Yes, well, this obviously is going to happen. However, there is a limit to the attractiveness of more remote places like Jersey City or Long Island City. It might make sense to get the grunt workers out of Manhattan,* but the appeal for middle management on up is Manhattan has a vast infrastructure that provides entertainment and interaction for such people. It’s hard to discount that.

Anyway, I think this Manhattan’s gain, Jersey’s loss (or vice-versa) debate is false polarization. The tunnel would have a positive economic impact for both NJ and NY.

* this has been going on for decades now anyway.

Frank October 27, 2010 - 6:29 am

The cost of this project is ridiculous. It is about time someone stopped spending taxpayer money without regard to cost. We’re in serious times. Thank God Governor Christie is a grown up.

E. Aron October 27, 2010 - 7:26 am

For the government, borrowing is at an all-time low and every other comparable nation is heavily investing in infrastructure to make for a robust economy in the near future. When there are no jobs, government is the last resort to kick-start the economy. Instead, we seem to be heading towards the know-nothing do-nothing nation to an even further extent than before. Now is exactly the wrong time to pass on projects like this. The budget-balancing will come later, and a muscular infrastructure will help the economy in the near-future to help balance that budget.

Benjamin Kabak October 27, 2010 - 8:06 am

Frank, et all using the same computer: This is an administrative note to let you know that I’ve temporarily suspended your commenting privileges. You cannot continue to post comments and then reply to your own comments an hour later. If you’d like to clear this up, please contact me, but when I see three different comment names with nearly identical content from the same IP address, we have a problem.

Gary October 27, 2010 - 9:15 am

Hmm. I’ve thought that the various threads on this issue were being sock-puppeted by NJ republicans.

Ben, by any chance is that a public computer?

Ralph October 27, 2010 - 7:45 am

No Ben, you dont start building something and wait for the money to run out and see what happens. You may spend money and run up your credit card bill and pay it when you want but you dont have any right to do that to taxpayer money. While I would love to see this built…you dont build it until ALL FUNDING IS IN PLACE. It aint.

Scott E October 27, 2010 - 8:19 am

Lautenberg: “The federal government, at my urging, presented Gov. Christie with a number of financing options that would limit and even eliminate New Jersey’s responsibility to pay for cost overruns on the ARC Tunnel”

So, Governor Christie, what’s the problem?

And, as I asked before, is the governor empowered to cancel this all by himself? At the federal level, the President can veto and Congress can override a veto. How does it work at the NJ State level? Can the state legislature push this through?

Kid Twist October 27, 2010 - 9:16 am

So what? Tax dollars are tax dollars. What’s the difference if we ship the money to Trenton to waste on an ill-conceived project or send to Washington and then let Washington give it to Trenton to squander?

Kid Twist October 27, 2010 - 9:11 am

“He fears the project will come in well overbudget; he wants more guaranteed federal money for this massive infrastructure investment; and he’s not going to let it go forward until he gets his dollars.” What an irresponsible bastard!

Is building infrastructure one of government’s most important responsibilities? Absolutely.

But now that we’ve decided that massive social welfare programs and over-priced, non-functioning schools are also the government’s responsibility, it seems like there’s no money left for basic things like building and maintaining the transportation systems that are vital to the economic development that generates jobs and tax revenues.

Guess what. You. Can’t. Have. Everything.

Gary October 27, 2010 - 9:19 am

It’s 100% clear now. Christie will kill a major and necessary transit project to spend the money on roads, so that NJ can continue to have a ridiculously low gas tax.

Also, so he can steer cash to his cronies. Chris Christie is what I imagine you’d get if Karl Rove devoured George Bush.

Eric F. October 27, 2010 - 9:36 am

“so he can steer cash to his cronies”?

Do you have a basis for this claim?

In your world, the guv is canceling a multi-billion dollar project supported by “all the right people”, a project that by its terms is supposed to be multi-year and so complex that layperson oversight is virtually impossible, and in any event is supposed to wrap up well after his term is over, and he is doing this so he can “steer cash to his cronies”. Grow up.

Gary October 27, 2010 - 9:45 am

Have you ever met Chris Christie, you simple naif?

Christie Cancels the project, and suddenly has a pool of cash that gets distributed on his say-so for highway projects in NJ.

Seven years ago I sat and listened to this backslapping jackal brag about how he advanced to his US Attorney gig.

Kid Twist October 27, 2010 - 9:44 am

As opposed to the Democrats, who steer cash to public employees who then return it to the candidates’ campaign coffers through their unions.

Benjamin Kabak October 27, 2010 - 9:47 am

It’s easy to paint in broad brushstrokes, but not all Democrats like unions. In fact, New York’s next governor isn’t making friends with labor. The issue isn’t as black and white as people here make it seem, and Republicans, while not as cozy with big labor as Democrats, still support unions to a far greater extent than you’d think.

Eric F. October 27, 2010 - 9:54 am

Cuomo is making the exact same noises about unions that Spitzer made when he was running, and that Paterson has made after each bloated budget is passed. Don’t fall for it, these guys know where their bread is buttered. The unions in this state will be in clover in perpetuity.

Bolwerk October 27, 2010 - 12:35 pm

Unions aren’t even the major problem in this state, so much as gutless legislators. Unions, the MTA, other public authorities, contractors, and ineffective local governments all have issues, but the framework for reform has to come from above. Instead, the things that need reform are smokescreens that get all the blame from the guys who are the real problem.

Bolwerk October 27, 2010 - 12:36 pm

Sure. They do a lot of the things Republikans do, except less effectively than Republikans. This includes their ability to plunder state coffers for cronies. Why is this surprising?

Eric F. October 27, 2010 - 9:52 am

“Christie Cancels the project, and suddenly has a pool of cash that gets distributed on his say-so for highway projects in NJ.”

Ok, so he controls highway contracts but not ARC contracts. Is that your theory? Making hair trigger slanders of the guy is pretty lame.

The moneys allocated to ARC would, I hope, devolve back to the NJ Turnpike Authority and the Port Authority, both of which have project backlogs a mile long. I would love to have an additional tunnel. In fact, I’d love to see three sets of tunnels, but I have no idea how NJ is supposed to afford this project. All I see in the press and on blogs is exhortations to get the tunnel built without a whisp of any plan to actually fund the obligation. If you drop a 90% federal match in NJ’s lap, is there any doubt that he’d restart the project in 10 seconds?

Benjamin Kabak October 27, 2010 - 9:55 am

If you drop a 90% federal match in NJ’s lap, is there any doubt that he’d restart the project in 10 seconds?

There’s doubt, yes. Numerous sources have said that, since June before the feds even presented him with potential overruns, he was preparing to cancel the project to use the money to replenish the Transportation Trust Fund. The only way Christie was going to let ARC go forward was if he had a guaranteed plan to cover potential overruns and if he had another source of revenue — not higher gas taxes because that’s a sacred cow — for the TTF. That’s seemingly the truth of the political situation in New Jersey right now.

Eric F. October 27, 2010 - 10:29 am

Well, if the feds actually came up with a 90% match, I don’t see how he could possibly turn it down.

The problem with the trust fund is decades in the making. The prior governor left his successor with some very difficult decisions. I have no idea how a second Corzine term would have handled these issues, as NJ has a severe funding problem and it’s maxed out for taxes.

Benjamin Kabak October 27, 2010 - 10:30 am

New Jersey’s not maxed out for taxes as long as its gas tax remains at lower levels, in real dollars, today than it was in 1990. If they want to fund transportation projects, raise the gas tax. That’s what every other state does.

Eric F. October 27, 2010 - 10:38 am

I don’t agree. The gas tax is only one component of driving costs. Nj residents pay tolls that have doubled in order to finance a variety of projects, including ARC. People from out of town positively blanche when they see what it costs to cross a bridge in this area. They pay among the highest auto insurance costs in the U.S. The gas tax is nominally low, but the cost of driving is high. Drivers can’t be your ATM without it creating it’s own drag on the economy.

I wouldn’t mind seeing a 50 cent gas tax rise myself, but that will hurt plenty of people.

Stewart Clamen October 27, 2010 - 11:08 am

When Corzine was promoting his toll hike plan, he had Town Hall meetings in every county, and I attended one. He pointed at that there was quite some room for “growth” in that revenue stream: namely that the per-mile rate on the NJ Turnpike was 10% of that of Delaware’s, and that the Garden State Parkway (perhaps just the segment along the Shore) hadn’t seen a rate increase in a generation. (He pretty much admitted that his rationale for raising more revenue at the tollbooth instead of at the gas pump was that the former would hit interstate drivers more.)

A $0.50/gal gas tax increase (which would amount to tripling the NJ rate) is much more than is necessary to make the TTF solvent again, I think.

Since cars are more fuel-efficient on average since the last time NJ set its tax rate (20 odd years ago), drivers are contributing less now (on a per-mile basis) then they used to.

Eric F. October 27, 2010 - 11:17 am

You can’t seriously compare Delaware’s rate on I-95 to the Turnpike! That road is used by out of state people and the tolls on Del.’s little section are a state cash cow. NJTpk has many out of state plates, but it is also very clearly an artery for intrastate traffic. The GSP tolls are still pretty low I’ll grant you, although in context there were many noises a decade ago about eliminating those tolls entirely.

I would happily absorb a gas tax increase, but it’s a move so unpopular that even Corzine avoided it. And that’s saying something. Just note that NJ drivers are absorbing huge toll increases on the Turnpime and at the Hudson crossings. They are not getting a free lunch.

Stewart Clamen October 27, 2010 - 11:43 am

Yes, DE Tpke is priced as a cash cow, and I’m not proposing that the NJ Tpke rates be increased ten-fold. That would just move traffic onto I-295 (in the south) and other “free” roads, anyway.

A gas tax increase is definitely the way to go. Doubling it might be enough for now. The present rate (as a percentage of retail cost) is small compared to what it was when it was last set (what did a gallon of gasoline cost in 1988?). Further, if it were coupled with the introduction of self-service, its regressive nature would be mitigated.

Gary October 27, 2010 - 1:10 pm

“I wouldn’t mind seeing a 50 cent gas tax rise myself”

Sure, that’s why you explicitly argue against it.

Just like you would love to see three sets of tunnels, but explicitly argue against building one.

You’re more full of shit than the Gowanus Canal after a rainstorm.

Al D October 27, 2010 - 10:03 am

Your opening statement summarizes it all, f-e-a-r. Christie is afraid and of something that may never materialize which is worry. Since ARC is new and bold, as opposed to let’s say building a bigger road which is sleepy and known, he opts for the ‘safe’ spend, even if it may not be the best use of money. The money is indeed there, he is being driven by f-e-a-r.

Brandi October 27, 2010 - 10:16 am

It’s kind of sad that the Republican party has been taken over by irrational people clinging to the promise of tax cuts at all costs. I used to vote for some republicans because I am fiscally moderate despite being socially very liberal. There used to be quite a few Republicans who supported infrastructure spending and stimulating the economy when it is down. Now they have all become obsessed with just saying no to any kind of spending no matter how good or bad it is. I can’t believe people would vote for people that have no foresight or plans but just a strict adherence to the word “no”. Christie is doing this solely to rally his base and stop the “socialist” trains. I mean I’m surprised he even cares to be honest considering he is going to try and run for a higher office very soon.

Eric F. October 27, 2010 - 10:34 am

“There used to be quite a few Republicans who supported infrastructure spending and stimulating the economy when it is down. Now they have all become obsessed with just saying no to any kind of spending no matter how good or bad it is.”

Great insight. Maybe you can spray paint that on the wall of the brand new 8th street Bayonne extension of the light rail line that will open in january.

Jean-Francois P. October 27, 2010 - 10:30 am

I think M. Christie is more interested in his national future than his state one. So he wants to show a strong republican behavor, he wants to reduce state budget problems. But I think he doesn’t mind how will be NJ state economical situation after the next presidential election.

Eric F. October 27, 2010 - 10:35 am

Or maybe there is no money for the tunnel. That’s another possibility.

Jean-Francois P. October 27, 2010 - 10:50 am

Let’s say YES. So it was the same in January when M. Christie was named governor. Why did he wait until 2 months before the midterm elections to begin to kill the project ? and the last decision will happen probably a few days before the elections. So between january and september, he spent money on this project and awarded contracts… and suddenly everything goes wrong !!!

Eric F. October 27, 2010 - 11:20 am

Let’s go with that. Why have 2 rounds of “Tiger II” grants been awarded in Democratic districts all over the country 8 days before a Congressional election?

The fact is that no state offices are up in NJ next week, so I’m not sure I see what your timing argument is on this one.

Jean-Francois P. October 27, 2010 - 11:26 am

He plays National with Local…

Jean-Francois P. October 27, 2010 - 11:30 am

He wants to be known nationaly for what he has done localy. And with this project, these elections, he got the media.
I’m US citizen so I can’t elect anyone but I’m trying to decrypt all of this.

Jean-Francois P. October 27, 2010 - 11:31 am

Sorry, I forgot “NOT” US citizen

Douglas John Bowen October 27, 2010 - 12:00 pm

Still overlooked — still! — in so much of this discussion is: What does one GET for the money?

We were going to get a two-track, six-mile “commuter” rail tunnel parallel to, but separate from, the busiest rail passenger route in the Americas, terminating at a new station barely connected to the busiest rail hub in North America. Many proponents deemed to call that “vision.”

“Access to the Region’s Core” initially envisioned access TO and THROUGH the region’s core (think east side, think New England). The costs kept rising, OK; maybe that’s unavoidable reality. But the promise and reach also kept shrinking, leading some of us — including those of us who still believe another tunnel is desirable, indeed almost inevitable — to question what we were buying.

So, years or not, decades or not, we begin anew.

John October 27, 2010 - 12:02 pm

Nothing when it comes to public works construction is ever ‘dead’ dead — even the Second Avenue subway has returned to life three times since its original conception. It’s just a matter of time, cost and scope.

The tunnels are needed. The batcave under Macy’s is not, and in fact makes the tunnel project a far less versatile one than another option that has at least some connection to the existing Penn Station and the mainline between Boston and Washington (or to the existing station complex at Grand Central). The options right now for ARC supporters is either to wait Christie out, and hope he either loses in 2013, moves on to another job of changes his mind, and the latter is more likely if an alternate proposal that’s lower cost but uses some of the existing Manhattan rail infrastructure is promoted.

Second Avenue as envisioned in the past was supposed to be the ultimate trunk line, with six tracks splitting off into a variety of directions in the outer boroughs. Now, we’ve got a two-track 1 1/2-mile long line with a future option of another 1 1/2 miles to 125th and Lex and a really-off-in-the-future option of five miles of new two-track line southbound to Hanover Square. Not what was envisioned in 1929 or 1950, but at least now something’s getting built, and the pressure on Christie to revive the ARC right now would be even greater … if backers can come up with a plan that makes the price tag less of an objection (i.e. drop the Bloomingdales’s plan for a line to the Macy’s basement and come up with a Kmart plan for a station at the Kmart basement.

Think twice October 27, 2010 - 12:28 pm

Speaking of Kmart and ways to get to Jersey. When the PATH was still the H&M RR, there were plans to extend the northern branch across 9th Street to the east side, to the IRT Astor Place station and—you guessed it—right next to Kmart’s basement (formerly Wanamaker’s department store).

Bolwerk October 27, 2010 - 12:42 pm

Yes, SAS is already failing future generations. It’s a glorified G Train, for a corridor that needs a 4 Train.

Benjamin Kabak October 27, 2010 - 12:51 pm

How is SAS a “glorified G train”? At the least, Phase 1 is a part of the BMT Broadway trunk line, and at worst, the full Manhattan line would be built to ensure future extensions into the Bronx or Brooklyn. Plus, the whole point of the line is to relieve Manhattan crowding on the Lexington IRT, and this new line will do that.

Bolwerk October 27, 2010 - 12:59 pm

Yes, okay, you’re right. Phase 1 is not even a glorified G Train!

Seriously though, I doubt it has much potential to relieve the IRT without being extended into the outer boroughs. And even then, it’s two tracks, hardly built to carry the capacity of the trunk lines finished generations ago. Given population growth and job market growth, it’s hard to say it would even keep up with naturally increasing demand plus the demand it induces.

Benjamin Kabak October 27, 2010 - 1:02 pm

I think we’re talking past each other. How is phase 1 not even a glorified G train?

It’s the Q train, which means it starts in Brooklyn and goes into Manhattan, through the Union Square area, past midtown, around the East Side and up to 96th St. and 2nd Ave. Even if all we get is Phase 1, that’s going to be a very useful train. It’s not just a four-stop shuttle with a transfer to the BMT at 57th St. It is the BMT extended north and east from midtown.

Bolwerk October 27, 2010 - 1:48 pm

Well, I don’t want to say it’s unimportant, but I do feel it’s unimpressive. It amounts to an overpriced token gesture toward the type of expansion SAS should include – if we’re going to bother with SAS at all. Phase I will almost certainly do nothing for crowding on Lex, if that’s the goal. The people who can take the Q Train from Brooklyn probably already do so, and SAS will do nothing to make that more practical for them (except maybe those rare souls who have to travel further uptown).

Given what we’re getting, I personally suspect a lot more good have been done with other, cheaper outer borough links, but we’re well past that now.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against the SAS. I just think it should have been bigger and better.

Chris October 29, 2010 - 2:16 pm

I think it will do a great deal for crowding on the Lex – it should take off a lot of commuters whose ultimate destinations are on the West Side, anwhere through Times Square, Herald Square, or Penn Station – who would otherwise board the Lex at 96th, 86th, 77th, or 68th. That is a great many commuters. It will also provide an alternative route for those going uptown on the east side from destinations further south, like Union Sq or Wall St. Though obviously a lot slower, it would be a relief valve when the Lex is extremely packed or delayed.

Bolwerk October 29, 2010 - 4:22 pm

Those things all have merits, but any meaningful crowding relief isn’t very believable. Even with Alon’s rosy citation, every one of those services is packed by the time it gets to Manhattan at certain times of the day. In the long run, transit is just going to be more crowded as gas prices go up and the city’s population grows.

For serious crowding relief, the SAS probably needs to leave Manhattan and take a load off a Lex feeder, maybe in both directions.

Alon Levy October 27, 2010 - 4:30 pm

Bolwerk, for the Upper East Side, phase 1 is very useful – it connects to the West Side better than anything else Uptown. The capacity problem on the Lex line is predominantly an Upper East Side problem, rather than a Bronx problem, so it would be an effective relief line. The ridership projections say Phase 1 will get 200,000 weekday riders, of whom the vast majority will be diverted from the Lex or the buses rather than induced.

The upshot is that those riders will travel in the opposite direction as most Q riders; this means the Q will be more efficient. Another upshot is that the predicted per-km ridership is so high that despite the obscene per-km cost, the per-rider cost is about $25,000, which is merely very high.

Bolwerk October 27, 2010 - 12:13 pm

He fears the project will come in well overbudget; he wants more guaranteed federal money for this massive infrastructure investment; and he’s not going to let it go forward until he gets his dollars. Later today, according to numerous reports, Christie will announce that he and the feds are at a funding impasse, and he will again kill the project.

It might be more insidious than that. A common Republikan ploy is to get into a position of power and waste a lot of money, and then point to the fact that the money is wasted as proof that government isn’t able to function. Either way it goes, Christie or at least his allies in the party can now do that.

I still don’t quite understand how Christie has such unilateral control over the project, however. Does the New Jersey legislature have any say?

Eric F. October 27, 2010 - 1:03 pm

You spelled Republican wrong. It has a c, not a k.

Bolwerk October 27, 2010 - 1:48 pm

No, it’s not.

Stewart Clamen October 27, 2010 - 12:14 pm

Does anyone believe that a new, better plan would

a) Be possible to devise (reasonably) quickly?
b) Come with as large a federal contribution?

Bolwerk October 27, 2010 - 12:40 pm

Can’t answer (a), but (b) might not even be necessary. If an equally effective solution, a tunnel to the current station, can be devised, why would as big a federal contribution be necessary? There’s no way $9B needs to be spent to go three miles.

Hell, if we’re going to be stingy, even a third tube to Penn would help a lot. At least that way rush hour traffic would interfere less with through Amtrak traffic.

Stewart Clamen October 27, 2010 - 2:27 pm

If we limit our budget to the amount that was promised by PANYNJ and NJ, that’s $6B, I think.

The better informed can correct me (Alon?) but I think tunneling to the current Penn tracks would be more than to a deep cavern because of all the shallow stuff between the station and the river. There was talk about open-cut, and having to buy NYC real estate and the like.

Could it be done for that?

Alon Levy October 27, 2010 - 9:48 pm

No, tunneling to the current Penn tracks would be much cheaper. Caverns are amazingly expensive. Deep tunnels are cheap with TBMs; deep stations require excavation, and are the primary cause of subway cost inflation both in New York and in other cities.

There’s no need to do open cut with shallow tunneling. There’s need to buy real estate under Alt G as well as under Alt P, in both cases because regardless of which alternative is chosen, the new tunnels would be quite distant from the existing tunnel and would arrive in Manhattan on a curved alignment. NJT brushed off the possibility of a parallel tunnel going under 31st, on the (implausible, probably fraudulent) grounds that it would be too close to the existing tunnel and could damage it.

Stewart Clamen October 28, 2010 - 9:11 am

So $6B could buy two additional tubes to NYPenn, then?

Alon Levy October 28, 2010 - 10:56 pm

$6 billion could buy two additional tubes, with several billion to spare.

Alon Levy October 27, 2010 - 9:44 pm

A third tube and a third and fourth tube cost approximately the same. The difference: you need the fourth tube to have the capacity to do through-running, without which Penn’s terminal capacity could become a real concern.

Statement from Gov. Christie on the end of the ARC :: Second Ave. Sagas October 27, 2010 - 12:37 pm

[…] « Déjà vu: Christie to kill ARC Tunnel again again Oct […]

Why TEA Is Bigger Than DADT « Straßgefühl October 27, 2010 - 2:08 pm

[…] people vote next week, I’d like to remind them that Chris Christie just killed the ARC project for the second time in two […]

At Penn Station, the ghost of ARC lives on :: Second Ave. Sagas January 5, 2011 - 1:01 am

[…] been over two months since New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pulled the plug on the ARC Tunnel project, and the fallout from his decision is still raining down upon the region. While the 7 line […]

Streetsblog Capitol Hill » Trainwreck: Rick Scott Keeps On Killing Florida HSR February 24, 2011 - 4:02 pm

[…] Chris Christie of New Jersey. How many times did he say no to the ARC Tunnel before it was finally over? And now Rick Scott of Florida has killed the Florida high-speed rail […]

Gateway, ARC, Sandy and the ticking clock :: Second Ave. Sagas May 5, 2014 - 11:20 pm

[…] to believe that it’s been over three and a half years since New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie unilaterally canceled the ARC Tunnel. Yet, it’s a decision that keeps coming back to haunt the entire region. Amtrak has proposed […]


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