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Christie Said to Hold Fast on Canceling Planned Hudson Tunnel

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said, “New Jersey has gone for too long and for too many decades ordering things that it can’t pay for.” Photographer/Tim Larsen/Office of the Governor via Bloomberg

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie intends to rule out building a commuter-rail tunnel under the Hudson River today, said a Republican official with knowledge of discussions on the subject.

The first-term Republican governor canceled the tunnel Oct. 7, citing estimates for costs to rise as much as $5 billion above the planned $8.7 billion price. A day later, at U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s request, he agreed to a two-week review of options that might save the project.

Christie, 48, has decided against it because he wasn’t satisfied that the federal options would insulate the state from higher costs, said the official, who didn’t want to be named because he wasn’t authorized to speak on it before Christie’s announcement. The U.S. and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey each were to pay $3 billion for the work. Christie said the plan put the burden of cost overruns entirely on his state.

“New Jersey has gone for too long and for too many decades ordering things that it can’t pay for,” Christie said in Trenton on Oct. 7. “I simply cannot put the taxpayers of New Jersey on a never-ending hook.”

A Christie spokesman, Kevin Roberts, declined to comment on today’s announcement plans.

The 8.8-mile (14-kilometer) Access to the Region’s Core tunnel was designed to double New Jersey Transit’s rail capacity into New York City. The tube was to end in an underground terminal to be built at 34th Street near Pennsylvania Station.

Cut Commute Times

If completed, the tunnel would cut travel times by as much as 30 minutes for New Jersey commuters, the Regional Plan Association, a New York-based research and advocacy group, said in an Oct. 14 report. It would double the number of people in the state within a 50-minute trip to Manhattan, the group said.

The federal government had offered financing options designed to allay Christie’s concerns about overruns, said U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, in an e-mailed statement. Lautenberg, a Democrat and the state’s senior senator, said the U.S. offer would “limit or even eliminate New Jersey’s responsibility” for increased costs.

“It was clear from the beginning that Governor Christie planned to kill this project no matter what,” Lautenberg said.

Olivia Alair, a spokeswoman with the federal Transportation Department, declined to comment on Lautenberg’s statement.

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