Christie Threatening to Kill ARC For Good on Friday

With NJ Transit ridership soaring but only one 100-year-old tunnel into Manhattan, New Jersey needs the ARC tunnel. Graphic: ##

Unless something changes quickly, the Christie administration is expected to (again) kill the badly-needed ARC transit tunnel this Friday. The tunnel would double capacity for New Jersey Transit into Manhattan, providing more and faster trips for commuters, and ease the pressure on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor trains [PDF].

Christie says he will not go forward with ARC unless the federal government agrees to cover any future cost overruns on the $8.7 billion project, reports the Star-Ledger. The Federal Transit Administration’s $3 billion contribution is already the largest federal commitment to a transit project in American history. So far, there haven’t been any signs from the feds that a further guarantee is forthcoming.

Advocates haven’t given up hope yet, however. This morning, New Jersey Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez joined construction workers in North Bergen to rally for the project’s completion. At rush hour, local elected officials joined the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, the Regional Plan Association, New Jersey Future, Environment New Jersey and NJ PIRG at NJ Transit stations to urge commuters to express their support for the tunnel to Christie. You can add your voice at

RPA also began running an ad in New Jersey newspapers debunking some of the myths about the project. For example, while Christie claims that the project will end up costing far more than $8.7 billion, the basis for his projections has never been justified or even explained in any sort of detail.

Then again, the discussion of cost overruns is something of a red herring anyway. As the Tri-State Transportation Campaign has detailed, Chris Christie just isn’t that into transit. While claiming that the state can’t afford ARC, for example, New Jersey is simultaneously borrowing $2 billion to widen the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway. There is money to spend on infrastructure, just not on rail.

Similarly, Christie has refused to raise New Jersey’s gas tax, the third-lowest in the country, in order to make the state’s transportation budgets add up. He didn’t have any such compunction about raising transit fares across the state, however, and his explanation is telling. “What’s the difference between a gas tax hike and a fare hike, besides who it lands on?” asked the Star-Ledger’s editorial board at the time. “That’s the difference,” answered Christie.

There are three days left. Can New Jersey’s voters convince the governor to do something he doesn’t want to do?