New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie terminated an $8.7 billion passenger-rail tunnel project Thursday that would have doubled NJTransit rail capacity between New York City and northern New Jersey and created at least 6,000 construction jobs.
The 8.8 mile-long tunnel — already 16 months into construction — is one of the nation’s largest mass-transit projects. Christie said he won’t allow taxpayers to fund the project, known as Access to the Region’s Core, because there is no clear way for the state to cover cost overruns.
“The ARC project costs far more than New Jersey taxpayers can afford and the only prudent move is to end this project,” Christie said in a press release. “Considering the unprecedented fiscal and economic climate our state is facing, it is completely unthinkable to borrow more money and leave taxpayers responsible for billions in cost overruns.”
New projections from the Federal Transit Administration and NJTransit estimated the final cost would be between $11 billion and $14 billion.
The state has spent nearly $600 million on the project, according the New Jersey Treasury Department.
The tunnel was to run from the township of North Bergen, under the Hudson River to midtown Manhattan. It would have eliminated a chokepoint under the river, where NJTransit shares a single, two-rail tunnel with Amtrak, and permitted the passage of 48 trains at peak rush hour compared with the present 23.
The project was championed by New Jersey’s U.S. senators, Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, and former Gov. Jon Corzine — all Democrats. Christie, a Republican, defeated Corzine last year.
The termination comes one week after Christie announced that he was replacing Anthony Coscia as chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey with David Samson, a Republican.
The federal government and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey were responsible for contributing $3 billion each to the ARC tunnel, with the Garden State shouldering $2.7 billion.
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority was scheduled to begin raising tolls in fiscal 2012 to pay its share.
From fiscal 2008 through fiscal 2011, NJTransit allocated $586.8 million from its annual capital budgets to the ARC, including $158.2 million this year.
The Port Authority has already spent $206 million on the project, with the majority of that sum being spent on the Manhattan side.
Michelle Kaske contributed to this story.