Gov. Chris Christie Thursday announced that the New Jersey Transit Authority hired the Washington law firm Patton Boggs LLP to help the state challenge the Federal Transit Administration’s demand that it repay $271 million in federal money the state spent on a canceled commuter-rail tunnel.

The Republican governor in late October ended the $8.7 billion project, called the Access to the Region’s Core, saying it was too expensive for New Jersey to bear. The FTA last month ordered NJTransit, the agency overseeing the ARC tunnel, to repay the funds that had been allocated for the commuter-rail project by Dec. 24.

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