New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he may cancel construction of a commuter-rail tunnel to New York, even if the U.S. government offers to cover cost overruns on the $8.7 billion project.
Christie, 48, suspended work on it last month on concern that the state couldn’t afford it after a U.S. agency said the cost may rise by as much as $5 billion. At a press briefing today in Newark, the governor said he hasn’t determined whether to kill the tunnel to Manhattan’s Pennsylvania Station.
“We’ve got to decide, given the flaws in this project, given the benefits the project would have to this region, and what the costs are, whether it’s something New Jersey taxpayers can afford,” Christie said. “That’s really as simple as the analysis is.”
A promise from the U.S. government to pay more won’t necessarily save it, Christie said. He said he is still awaiting updated cost estimates on the proposed 8.8 mile (14 kilometer) tunnel under the Hudson River. It was planned to increase passenger-train traffic between his state and the city to handle 255,000 riders a day from 170,000 now, according to New Jersey Transit, the project manager.
“It would depend on how much money they are talking about and what the cost overrun is,” Christie said about the offer of more federal money. “This is a mathematical decision.”
Work on the project, which began in June, is scheduled to be finished in 2018. New Jersey’s share of the budgeted cost is $2.7 billion, while the Federal Transit Administration and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey both have committed $3 billion.