[Update: The day after canceling the project, Gov. Christie met with USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood and agreed to a further two-week review of the project and a study of options which could save the tunnel. More on this to come.]
It’s official: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has canceled the Access to the Region’s Core rail tunnel. According to the governor’s statement, the project “will be terminated and staff will immediately begin an expeditious and orderly shutdown of the project.”
Tri-State, the Regional Plan Association, NJPIRG, and Environment New Jersey released the following statement earlier today:
Governor Christie’s cancellation of the ARC tunnel project is a short-sighted move that will stunt New Jersey’s growth for generations to come. With today’s announcement, Governor Christie is single handedly destroying 20 years of NJ Transit’s progress while killing the largest public transit investment in history, all for a one-time infusion of cash.
Cancelling the project will have immediate and long-term consequences.
Not building ARC will increase already gridlocked conditions across the Hudson and place a hard cap on the number of New Jerseyans who can access to the most lucrative job market in the nation. Jobs in New York, which are expected to grow, will instead be filled by residents in Queens and Long Island who are gaining greater access with the East Side Access project.
By reneging on its commitment to the project without a meaningful search for funding solutions, NJ is losing more than just $6 billion in federal and Port Authority money. It’s losing more than 40,000 jobs while unemployment soars. It’s losing mobility when the state is choked with traffic. It’s losing economic development opportunities while municipalities struggle to stay afloat. The only things the state gains from this terrible loss are an extra 66,000 tons of carbon emissions a year from residents who will drive instead of taking the train, and a loud and clear signal that it is business as usual in New Jersey. The Christie administration has joined its predecessors by relying on short-term financial fixes instead of real change.
“The demise of the ARC tunnel cements Governor Christie’s legacy as anti-transit and anti-green jobs,” said Kate Slevin, executive director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “He says he is anti-tax, yet raised transit fares by 22%. He has turned his back on his constituents who will remain stuck in traffic at the Hudson River crossing and delayed on NJTransit trains.”
Despite the cost review and call for fiscal responsibility when it comes to ARC, the Christie administration is borrowing another $2 billion for other megaprojects whose budgets have ballooned in recent years: the widenings of the NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway.
“Transportation produces the largest portion of New Jersey’s global warming emissions, and by deep-sixing the ARC tunnel, Gov. Christie is turning his back on transit riders and the environment,” said Dena Mottola Jaborska, executive director for Environment New Jersey.
“Gov. Christie’s message to commuters today is clear — expect delays. Whether you’re on the rails or on the road, canceling the ARC tunnel will mean more crowded trains, more traffic jams and longer commutes,” said Jen Kim, NJPIRG’s program advocate.
“The decision to cancel ARC is an enormous disappointment,” said Bob Yaro, president, Regional Plan Association. “ARC was desperately needed by the residents of New Jersey who now face limited access to the most lucrative job market in the nation, less reliable commutes and more congested roadways at the Hudson River crossings for the next generation.”
Tom Wright, Executive Director of RPA, said “New Jersey needs ARC. Unless transit capacity under the Hudson River can grow with demand, New Jersey has a hard cap on its economic potential. With the 70,000 additional daily riders who would have used ARC, New Jersey would be more connected to New York City and the expanding global economy, companies and workers would continue locating in the Garden State, home construction would pick up, and the value of homes near transit stations would rise by an estimated $18 billion. All of this has been jeopardized by this decision.”