Christie to New York: `Stop Screwing With Us' on Tappan Zee Bridge Upgrade

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he’ll block attempts to have state taxpayers pick up any of the tab for a planned $16 billion upgrade of the 55-year-old Tappan Zee Bridge across the Hudson River north of Manhattan.

New York Governor David Paterson yesterday suggested having the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey assume control over the bridge, which carries 140,000 cars daily. Doing so would let the states share project costs and toll revenue, he said at a Long Island appearance.

Christie, a first-term Republican, said he’ll try to stop any effort to have the Port Authority rebuild the 3.1-mile (5- kilometer) bridge, which may cost $10 billion alone, or related plans for road work and a rail link that may cost $6 billion more. In October, he killed a proposed commuter-rail tunnel under the Hudson in part because he said New York wouldn’t share the financial burden.

“I can’t make it any clearer to New York: Stop screwing with us, OK?” Christie told reporters today in his Trenton office. “You’re not going to come and pick our pockets. New Jersey is not going to permit it anymore. We now have an administration that’s going to stand up to New York and say no.”

New York purposely kept the Tappan Zee separate from the Port Authority to prevent New Jersey from sharing toll revenue, Christie said. He said he would oppose any effort to extend the agency’s scope and that he wouldn’t have supported the project even if New York had contributed to the tunnel.

Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey. Photographer/Tim Larsen/Office of the Governor via Bloomberg Close

Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey. Photographer/Tim Larsen/Office of the Governor via Bloomberg

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Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey. Photographer/Tim Larsen/Office of the Governor via Bloomberg

Approaching the Limit

Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch approached New Jersey officials to discuss a Tappan Zee proposal, Paterson said Nov. 18 on New York City’s WOR radio. Paterson, who leaves office Jan. 1 when fellow Democrat Andrew Cuomo takes over, said yesterday he himself hadn’t discussed the issue with Christie.

Paterson had no comment today on Christie’s remarks, Anna Adams-Sarthou, a spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

New York is approaching its borrowing limit and needs new revenue to maintain its transportation system and back debt for projects such as the Tappan Zee replacement, Ravitch said in a Nov. 19 report to Paterson.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, operator of the New York City subway, and the state Transportation Department, which says 5,500 bridges need repair or replacement, don’t have enough funding to cover operating costs and the new borrowing needed for construction projects, Ravitch said in his report.

To contact the reporter on this story: Terrence Dopp in Trenton, New Jersey, at tdopp@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net.

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