New Jersey Governor Chris Christie canceled a planned commuter-rail tunnel to New York, saying the initial $8.7 billion cost might have reached $14 billion.
The state will begin an “orderly wind-down” of the project, called ARC or Access to the Region’s Core, Christie told reporters in Trenton today.
“I will not allow taxpayers to fund projects that run over budget with no clear way of how these costs will be paid for,” said Christie, a first-term Republican. “The ARC project costs far more than New Jersey taxpayers can afford and the only prudent move is to end this project.”
Christie said in September that his state might be forced to cancel the project after federal officials estimated it might cost as much as $5 billion more than projected. The federal commitment is capped at $3 billion, and cost overruns would have to have been absorbed by New Jersey, Christie said today.
And the Democrats flip out:
Assemblyman John Wisniewski, a Democrat from Sayreville who chairs the transportation committee...called the cancellation a “travesty.”
“Something that took 30 years to happen, this governor walks away from,” Wisniewski said. “Leadership means seeing a problem and finding the solution. Leadership’s not seeing a problem and throwing in the towel.”
So you got ideas on where that $5 billion is going to come from, Wisiewski? I mean, besides raising my income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes....?
And the decrepit and aged Frank Lautenberg, a zombie Senator if there ever was one, awoke from his perpetual slumber to drool onto a pro forma press release:
Lautenberg, a Democrat, called Christie’s decision “one of the biggest public-policy blunders in New Jersey history.”
“Without increased transportation options into Manhattan, New Jersey’s economy will eventually be crippled,” Lautenberg said in a statement.
So where's the money going to come from, Frankie? Not from the feds, as mentioned above, and not from New York, as Christie makes clear in his classic caustic fashion:
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said earlier this week that while he supported the tunnel, the city can’t help pay for it.
Christie dismissed prospects the project would get any help from Bloomberg.
“I said if he’s really interested in the project, send me a check,” Christie said. “I have not heard anything.”
Now if Christie was more like Barack Obama, he'd be blaming his predecessors for getting the state into this mess. Difference is, of course, is that Christie would be telling the truth - from the New York Post:
It's cynical planning under his predecessor, Jon Corzine, that left ARC a basket case.
Corzine broke ground on the job a year ago without having anything close to a plan for finishing it.
A recent federal audit made it clear that Corzine was more interested in the "shovel ready" photo op than in assuring competent management to get the project finished. Most obviously, he didn't put in place standard practices to prevent fraud and waste. The audit suggested that Jersey go to New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority for advice here — and when you need to ask the MTA how to avoid waste, you're in trouble.
Then, there's money — or lack of it. Yes, ARC was slated to get $4.4 billion in federal funds. But nobody knows how much the project would really cost — it's already $500 million over its original $8.7 billion price tag.
Some poisons take years to be eradicated from the system; just because the symptoms start to subside doesn't mean there isn't still evil in the bloodstream. Or perhaps Corzine is more like a nasty computer worm - you may be able to eliminate the corrupting files, but the worm, burrowed in deep, keeps re-creating the virus, weakening you further every time . Or perhaps Corzine is best described as a zombie - finally dead, or so New Jersey thought, but he has arisen from the grave, with a $5B debt in one hand, and a civil war in the other....
This is going to get ugly, and may prove to be Christie's toughest fight yet, as Democrats scream that Corzine is destroying jobs in New Jersey. Where the $5 billion will come from is irrelevant to Jersey Democrats; it's all about bringing down a reforming governor who is ruining their boys-club racket. And now that they feel they have a club, they will bludgeon Christie with it at every turn.
Get ready for a battle royale. And hopefully, some good "Christie porn" on You Tube...