Governor Christie Reiterates Cost Overruns As Reason For Canceling ARC Rail Tunnel
Even as a report today by independent congressional investigators finds that Governor Christie misstated New Jersey's share of the costs for the Hudson River rail tunnel project, Christie reiterates that he would not send taxpayers a bill for the estimated cost overruns.
But a Government Accountability Office report, obtained by The New York Times, finds cost estimates for the tunnel had remained unchanged and state transportation officials had said the project would cost less than Christie had estimated.
The Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, did the report at the request of Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg, the chairman of the Senate subcommittee on surface transportation.
Christie had said he feared cost overruns when he canceled what was then the largest public works project in the nation.
“I abandoned the getting-everything-you-want thing a long time ago but I refuse to compromise my principles,” Christie said today in a speech in Manhattan. “When they want to build a tunnel to the basement of Macy’s and stick the New Jersey taxpayer with a bill of $3 to 5 billion over, no matter how much the administration yells and screams, you have to say no.”
Democratic legislators are responding the the GAO report.
“These latest details are more evidence of the Governor’s continued pattern of distorting the facts to suit his agenda. Instead, the Governor put together a team to exaggerate the price tag on the project and then massively overstated the state’s share of the costs. The end result? Millions of dollars wasted on the early stages of the project, preliminary work left now to wallow, and $4 billion raided so the Governor wouldn’t have to come up with any creative solutions of his own to fund the Transportation Trust Fund" said Assemblyman Joe Cryan (D-Union).
Lautenberg, 88, has called the cancellation "one of the biggest public policy blunders in New Jersey history."
Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said the report failed to consider other expenses associated with the tunnel and the fluctuating estimates suggest no one really knew how much the project would cost.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)