Chris Christie on expensive new tunnel/boondoggle: Sorry, we’re broke

posted at 8:00 pm on October 7, 2010 by Allahpundit

Via Cubachi, alternate headline: “Tomorrow’s Glenn Beck ‘Chris Christie porn’ today!” The quick and dirty background: New Jersey’s been plotting a new commuter train tunnel into Manhattan literally for decades and Christie had a crazy hunch that it might run over budget. So he asked a committee to study the problem, and what do you know:

“I have made a pledge to the people of New Jersey that on my watch I will not allow taxpayers to fund projects that run over budget with no clear way of how these costs will be paid for,” said the governor. “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…

Christie called a 30-day temporary halt in September on new tunnel construction, as behind-the-scenes cost projections suggested the tunnel project costs would swell more than $1 billion above the $8.7 [billion] proposed price tag. He said he didn’t want the New Jersey version of Boston’s “Big Dig” — a tunnel mega-project that saw the final tally climb to nearly ten times the original $2.8 billion estimate.

At the same time, the governor was confronted with the state’s nearly bankrupt Transportation Trust Fund, which pays for road and bridge repairs and transit services. Christie had vowed not to increase the gas tax to pay for the fund, saying that drivers already had to contend with New Jersey Turnpike toll hikes and state residents already have been taxed too much, and there has been growing speculation that Christie will shift the state’s share of the tunnel project into the trust fund…

Proponents said the project would have created 6,000 construction-related jobs annually and close to 45,000 permanent jobs once completed. It would have provided one-seat rides to Manhattan, gotten 22,000 cars off the roads every day and eliminated nearly 70,000 tons of greenhouse gasses gases every year, U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said.

In other words, this is New Jersey’s version of the stimulus debate. Spend money to make money by goosing the economy or cut costs to put the government’s fiscal house in order? As you might expect, Paul Krugman’s simply heartbroken over the whole thing and would much prefer a gasoline tax to fund the tunnel. To which I say, why not put it to a popular referendum? Let Jerseyites decide if they’d like to pay more at the pump to fund an infrastructure project that’s already a cool bil over budget and sure to spiral onwards and upwards. The pro-tunnel side has a decent argument, and Jersey’s gas tax is already among the lowest in the nation. Maybe voters will suck it up. The anti-tunnel “Big Dig” ads alone would be worth the price of the campaign.


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To which I say, why not put it to a popular referendum? Let Jerseyites decide if they’d like to pay more at the pump to fund an infrastructure project that’s already a cool bil over budget and sure to spiral onwards and upwards.

Why not?

Also, it seems as if a key aspect of this debate is missing: is the tunnel necessary? As it stands, just about every single way into and out of the city is at full capacity every day. Is there no consequence to that?

ernesto on October 7, 2010 at 8:07 PM

Friend of mine on Facebook said he was riding the elevator with NY Gov Patterson today and, quote, “he was blastin’ christie over the tunnel project….” I wonder what his public statement will look like.

Patrick Ishmael on October 7, 2010 at 8:07 PM

Well that was blunt.

tarpon on October 7, 2010 at 8:08 PM

Bow-wow-chicka-chicka-bow-wow….

Pasalubong on October 7, 2010 at 8:08 PM

To which I say, why not put it to a popular referendum? Let Jerseyites decide if they’d like to pay more at the pump to fund an infrastructure project that’s already a cool bil over budget and sure to spiral onwards and upwards.

Um…because it would be gold for his opponent’s ads in a few years?

“Chris Christie swore not to let projects go over budget…yet went along with a plan to spend an additional billion taxpayer dollars. Can you really vote for a candidate you can’t trust?”

MadisonConservative on October 7, 2010 at 8:10 PM

The jobs argument is economically ridiculous. We could pay people to dig holes in the ground and fill them back in if “jobs” was the be-all, end-all. Would it be a worthwhile use of scarce resources?

bcm4134 on October 7, 2010 at 8:11 PM

Someone from New York… how many tunnels go into Manhattan? Is there not a train that runs from NJ to Manhattan?

upinak on October 7, 2010 at 8:13 PM

There are already commuter trains from NJ into Manhattan. Can someone from the area tell us if they’re insufficient?

No snark–I just want to know.

INC on October 7, 2010 at 8:15 PM

upinak on October 7, 2010 at 8:13 PM

Yes, that’s why I asked. We lived in NJ a while back, and I know there are trains.

INC on October 7, 2010 at 8:16 PM

To which I say, why not put it to a popular referendum?

Republicans need to turn to this more often… instead of “I won’t raise taxes” it should be “I won’t raise taxes without a referendum”…

ninjapirate on October 7, 2010 at 8:17 PM

MadisonConservative on October 7, 2010 at 8:10 PM

Obama is going to put ads against Christie? Unfounded///

upinak on October 7, 2010 at 8:18 PM

It was a waste, I live on Long Island and have been to Jersey innumerable times, its an easy ride. By the way there is a subway known as the PATH train which flys to Jersey from Manhattan. There simply was no need for the tunnel.

rob verdi on October 7, 2010 at 8:18 PM

upinak,
I just read your comment, there is the PATH and I believe New Jersey Transit has lines at Penn Station as well.

rob verdi on October 7, 2010 at 8:19 PM

INC on October 7, 2010 at 8:16 PM

I have never lived or been to NY or NJ. So I have no clue. I assumed but I would rather ask. Maybe the trains break down a lot… ???

upinak on October 7, 2010 at 8:19 PM

So it is not right to spend New Jersey taxpayer money on these schemes, but it would be okay if other taxpayers foot the bill? That’s what they call Beggar thy neighbor.

keep the change on October 7, 2010 at 8:19 PM

I just read your comment, there is the PATH and I believe New Jersey Transit has lines at Penn Station as well.

rob verdi on October 7, 2010 at 8:19 PM

That makes sense. But is this new tunnel for car cummuting to an island, that doesn’t have all that much parking to begin with?

I know.. common sense thing is annoying sometimes.

upinak on October 7, 2010 at 8:20 PM

Someone from New York… how many tunnels go into Manhattan? Is there not a train that runs from NJ to Manhattan?

upinak on October 7, 2010 at 8:13 PM

Four.
Yes

katy the mean old lady on October 7, 2010 at 8:21 PM

It is good to see the Governor is looking out for the people, like he promised. Hope the rest of the Governors are watching and take notice.

DL13 on October 7, 2010 at 8:22 PM

katy the mean old lady on October 7, 2010 at 8:21 PM

Does this new tunnel connect to just Manhattan or does it branch off to another part of the city?

upinak on October 7, 2010 at 8:23 PM

Transportation infrastructure should no more be government owned than the electrical grid or telecommunications. The (unfortunate) legacy of the Eisenhower administration is rejection of the privately-owned model of the Interstate highway system.

rock the casbah on October 7, 2010 at 8:23 PM

The jobs argument is economically ridiculous. We could pay people to dig holes in the ground and fill them back in if “jobs” was the be-all, end-all. Would it be a worthwhile use of scarce resources?

bcm4134 on October 7, 2010 at 8:11 PM

Correct. You can have 0% unemployment in a place like Cuba, and negative economic growth.

Unemployment figures are relatively meaningless unless the rate is examined in its relationship to GDP.

Saltysam on October 7, 2010 at 8:24 PM

So you take money away from people by way of taxes so that you can pay other people to work. And you call that net plus?

It is like cutting off your foot, cooking and eating it and then saying “mmmm! That was nutritious!”.

kurtzz3 on October 7, 2010 at 8:26 PM

WOW!

A politician who TELLS THE TRUTH. Who WILL reverse an endorsement based upon flawed information and take the flack for that reversal.

Like Ace, I AM getting a serious “Man Crush” on this guy!

FloridaBill on October 7, 2010 at 8:26 PM

The jobs argument is economically ridiculous. We could pay people to dig holes in the ground and fill them back in if “jobs” was the be-all, end-all. Would it be a worthwhile use of scarce resources?

bcm4134 on October 7, 2010 at 8:11 PM

Mmm mmm mmm… always up for some Friedman.

MeatHeadinCA on October 7, 2010 at 8:26 PM

Okay… I think I have it.

This is the NJ-Tunnel-to-No-Where. NY doesn’t want it, NJ needs it for congestion and no one wants to take a bus/train from the sounds of it.

We have the same problems here in Anchorage. No bridge, a hour or so drive one way and no one wants to give up their cars and take a bus (which was just started). It sucks.. but what do you do?

upinak on October 7, 2010 at 8:27 PM

I think a lot of times, these huge projects are just a way to get more money, spend more money, then take more money again because of unforseen overruns. It’s rediculous, and wasteful.

Patience is a virtue. If pioneers could walk, ride a horse, or sit a wagon for months at a time crossing this country, with no rest stops, bathrooms, holiday inns, or luxuries, surely people can make do with what already exists, and spare an extra 10 to 15 minutes of travel time?

capejasmine on October 7, 2010 at 8:27 PM

upinak on October 7, 2010 at 8:20 PM

This is a train tunnel–no cars.

Subway, buses, taxis connect you all over the five boroughs of NYC.

INC on October 7, 2010 at 8:28 PM

70,000 tons of greenhouse gases. Almost as much as celebrities produce a year in their private jets.

Hening on October 7, 2010 at 8:30 PM

upinak on October 7, 2010 at 8:20 PM

The current rail tunnels into manhattan from NJ are at 98% capacity daily. Every way into and out of the city is full. Cars, trains, busses, all run much slower than they could due to increasing ridership and finite paths in.

ernesto on October 7, 2010 at 8:36 PM

upinak on October 7, 2010 at 8:27 PM

Trains and buses are a way of life in the NYC metro area.

You can also park in NJ and commute via the ferry.

INC on October 7, 2010 at 8:36 PM

So this creates 6,000 construction jobs and 45,000 permanent jobs? It gets 22,000 cars off the road, so that is 2 permanent employees per car removed. Maybe those 2 people are carrying one car to NY and back each day.

Anyways, I call BS on the numbers.

So did Christie. Good job guv.

GnuBreed on October 7, 2010 at 8:38 PM

Folks, as a fiscal conservative resident of NJ, my feelings are some what mixed on this.

I see a lot of questions above about access into the city via rail tunnel from NJ.

Yes, there are 4 tunnels, all of them around 100 years old. We have two commuter rail tunnels that serve as part of the North East Corridor running into Penn Station in NY, we also have a PATH tunnel running to 33rd st, and a PATH tunnel running to the WTC site in lower Manhattan.

All of these are approaching peak capacity, with the commuter rail lines at around 98% capacity on the busiest rail line in the country, and part of our only (semi) functional High Speed rail line. The current infrastructure is a total disaster of delays, equipment failures, and misery for those unfortunate enough to have to commute this way.

So, the new tunnel is needed, unfortunately there is no way to pay for it, and even more unfortunately, this project was compromised into stupidity, as it didn’t truly double the capacity, since it doesn’t connect to NY Penn Station or the existing North East Corridor tunnels. The problem with this is that if Amtrak gets stuck in the tunnel, as it is prone to do, these new tunnels will do nothing to ease the congestion. What these tunnels were supposed to do was provide a single seat ride into Manhattan from some of the other lines in NJ, The Main Line, Bergen County Line, Raritan Valley Line, etc. In fact new, duel powered locomotives have already been ordered from Bombardier (diesel and overhead catenary) to run in this tunnel.

So the new project would have been nice, but it wasn’t needed, and it didn’t totally solve the existing problems of failing decrepit infrastructure.

So I applaud our Governor for making a tough decision that may or may not be unpopular down the road (this is a long term project with very vague rewards that affect a limited number of people, so I’m not sure if he really feels any heat on this one), but we still need new tunnels.

My hope is that we get some smart folks together and revisit the original concept along with the additional set of tubes that Amtrak just proposed last year (that would truly add capacity to the Northeast Corridor), and we get this thing done right for a change, and we find a way to pay for it that doesn’t rob our citizens that see no direct benefit, and doesn’t rob tax payers in other states that really could care less about this project.

A ballot referendum on the gas tax is a good idea, we can put our money where our mouths are, and to for the poster that mentioned an elevator ride with an irate Governor Paterson, tell your friend to ask NY to pony up some dough for this thing, and maybe we can take the project off the shelf. It benefits both states, and NY refuses to pick up their share of the tab.

Jim T on October 7, 2010 at 8:42 PM

I live in Manhattan and go to North Jersey occasionally …PATH is great but this area can always use more public transit. Whatever there is gets used, believe me! if it relieves present auto congestion a bit, it might be worth it if it can be built efficiently and under budget. Sometimes public works projects are, but probably not in corruption-prone NJ.

YehuditTX on October 7, 2010 at 8:46 PM

Jim T on October 7, 2010 at 8:42 PM

Thanks for the info and helpful analysis.

INC on October 7, 2010 at 8:46 PM

Wish some politician in Kaleefornia had the same balls and integrity to say the same thing about the asinine “super train” that’s planned using bogus ridership and cost estimates.

GarandFan on October 7, 2010 at 8:48 PM

Someone need to tell Hank Johnston about all those holes under Manhattan ….bets it would keep him awake at night if he ever spends the night there http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNZczIgVXjg

Aggie95 on October 7, 2010 at 8:50 PM

A ballot referendum on the gas tax is a good idea, we can put our money where our mouths are, and to for the poster that mentioned an elevator ride with an irate Governor Paterson, tell your friend to ask NY to pony up some dough for this thing, and maybe we can take the project off the shelf. It benefits both states, and NY refuses to pick up their share of the tab.

Good point about NY. Which is broke too.

But I wonder if a referendum could pass, because most Jerseyites never go to NYC; if you live south of Trenton you won’t care. If you don’t live on a rail line you would drive anyway, so you probably wouldn’t go.

YehuditTX on October 7, 2010 at 8:50 PM

“We just don’t have the money” is an alien concept to liberals. They believe there is an endless supply of other people’s money.

crosspatch on October 7, 2010 at 8:53 PM

I’m glad to provide what ever info I can, since I spend like 20% of my life on the horror show that is NJ Transit.

I work for one of the Joint Venture firms doing the design for this thing, and I’m firmly entrenched in a another mass transit boondoggle in another state.

I ride the PATH out of Newark every morning, which is a fate I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

Jim T on October 7, 2010 at 8:54 PM

The scariest words

“We are from the Government, we are here to help!”

THe new statement should be

“We are with the Government and we represent all the people, Sorry, we’re broke” come back in 20 Years.

bluemarlin on October 7, 2010 at 8:57 PM

It would have provided one-seat rides to Manhattan, gotten 22,000 cars off the roads every day and eliminated nearly 70,000 tons of greenhouse gasses gases every year, U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said.

Shoot. The Obama Recovery took at least 22,000 cars off the highway (cause the drivers lost their J-O-B-S.) Whatcha need a tunnel for, Frank?

BigAlSouth on October 7, 2010 at 8:57 PM

It must be nice to have a competent, responsible Governor.

TheBigOldDog on October 7, 2010 at 8:58 PM

Yes, okay, fine. But how does The Situation feel about this?

John the Libertarian on October 7, 2010 at 9:10 PM

the idiocy of fiscal fundamentalism. after the race tothe top fiasco, it’s strike two for this turd.

sesquipedalian on October 7, 2010 at 9:13 PM

Penn Station always has been unbalanced as far as capacity — only two tunnels crossing the Hudson to Manhattan while there were four tunnels built across the East River for the Long Island Railroad and Amtrak connections to New England.

Logic would say you add two more tunnels on the Hudson side and a couple of more platforms to handle the additional trains coming from New Jersey, which at the same time would increase Amtrack capacity and provide the tunnels that would be needed if a new high speed rail corridor is ever created. Instead, the plan was for two tunnels two blocks north of the existing tubes and 75 feet lower, coming into a brand new terminal that would basically have to be dug out 90 feet under Macy’s basement on 34th Street and dead end around Sixth Avenue, making it useless for a through connection.

That’s why the stupid thing costs so much, and why Christie killing it isn’t the worst thing in the world, especially since the Penn Station alternative with no new Batcave would probably knock the cost down by about 50 percent.

jon1979 on October 7, 2010 at 9:27 PM

I think Christie has seen the writing on the wall, by the time the Liberals get through raising taxes, taxing the rich(business)thumbing their noses at the people(the mosque) there won’t be anything left in NY to go too.

concernedsenior on October 7, 2010 at 9:28 PM

Tunnel for Path to WTC… would suppose its reopend
Tunnel for Path / Amtrak to Penn Station (originally dug by Pennsylvania RR)

Its not to say another Hudson crossing isn’t needed, but should it be rail or bus/car, and should it be a tunnel, or Bridge (which could do both train and cars) Lindenthal spent the first half of 20th century campaigning to build a massive 57th street bridge.

The major question is which way is truly more economical, but the greens are pushing for train tunnel, when a car/bus tunnel could probably recover its funding much quicker with future subsidies of money losing commuter rail operations…

phreshone on October 7, 2010 at 9:29 PM

i live in South Jersey. they are repaving route 295 near me with porkulus funds. the road absolutely did not need repaving. it has been going on since May 2009 and WON’T BE COMPLETED UNTIL 2012. TWENTY – F******G – TWELVE. TO REPAVE A ROAD.

sbvft contributor on October 7, 2010 at 9:30 PM

Ummm, Ummm, Ummm

Dingbat63 on October 7, 2010 at 9:36 PM

I wish Christie cared as much about all the money we are pouring down the illegal alien pit here in Jersey as much as he is concerned about this project.

The illegal alien population residing in New Jersey is costing the state’s taxpayers nearly $2.1 billion per year for education, medical care and incarceration.

From: http://www.fairus.org/site/PageServer?pagename=research_njcosts

Wine_N_Dine on October 7, 2010 at 9:41 PM

and Jersey’s gas tax is already among the lowest in the nation

You make that sound like a bad thing.

Low taxes = good.

Pretty simple concept AP. Maybe you would prefer that NJ and NY residents pay like the French do? Ten years ago that was $2 US a liter. I remember those $100 fill ups really sucking, even if the roads were fantastic.

Jim708 on October 7, 2010 at 9:53 PM

Not a dollar from my pocket to help anyone. Unless I gift it, out of free will. You take it from me, or try, I will fight you to the end. Yes, my taxes will be payed, reluctantly, but after that leave me the fu€k alone!

TXUS on October 7, 2010 at 9:55 PM

Jersey’s gas tax is already among the lowest in the nation

But I think we’re the highest in property taxes. Might as well be first in everything right?

Wine_N_Dine on October 7, 2010 at 10:04 PM

Pretty simple concept AP. Maybe you would prefer that NJ and NY residents pay like the French do? Ten years ago that was $2 US a liter. I remember those $100 fill ups really sucking, even if the roads were fantastic.

Jim708 on October 7, 2010 at 9:53 PM

At least the French get decent roads out of it.

Here, we’d get the $100 fill ups, and the potholes would be bigger and more numerous than before.

Gator Country on October 7, 2010 at 10:05 PM

Just where do they get this number of 45,000 permanent jobs created? Did they just pull that number out of their ample byootocks?

thekingtut on October 7, 2010 at 10:08 PM

Looks like this FB page is trying out the nickname “The Sledgehammer”.

facebook.com/CommonSensePorn

closetgop on October 7, 2010 at 10:15 PM

Way to go! And that is all I have to say.

Teleycoman on October 7, 2010 at 10:19 PM

As a NJ resident, it’s not that the tunnel is a bad idea… we’re just **^$##(& broke!

Dash on October 7, 2010 at 10:27 PM

Folks, as a fiscal conservative resident of NJ, my feelings are some what mixed on this.

I see a lot of questions above about access into the city via rail tunnel from NJ.

Yes, there are 4 tunnels, all of them around 100 years old. We have two commuter rail tunnels that serve as part of the North East Corridor running into Penn Station in NY, we also have a PATH tunnel running to 33rd st, and a PATH tunnel running to the WTC site in lower Manhattan.

All of these are approaching peak capacity, with the commuter rail lines at around 98% capacity on the busiest rail line in the country, and part of our only (semi) functional High Speed rail line. The current infrastructure is a total disaster of delays, equipment failures, and misery for those unfortunate enough to have to commute this way.

So, the new tunnel is needed, unfortunately there is no way to pay for it, and even more unfortunately, this project was compromised into stupidity, as it didn’t truly double the capacity, since it doesn’t connect to NY Penn Station or the existing North East Corridor tunnels. The problem with this is that if Amtrak gets stuck in the tunnel, as it is prone to do, these new tunnels will do nothing to ease the congestion. What these tunnels were supposed to do was provide a single seat ride into Manhattan from some of the other lines in NJ, The Main Line, Bergen County Line, Raritan Valley Line, etc. In fact new, duel powered locomotives have already been ordered from Bombardier (diesel and overhead catenary) to run in this tunnel.

So the new project would have been nice, but it wasn’t needed, and it didn’t totally solve the existing problems of failing decrepit infrastructure.

So I applaud our Governor for making a tough decision that may or may not be unpopular down the road (this is a long term project with very vague rewards that affect a limited number of people, so I’m not sure if he really feels any heat on this one), but we still need new tunnels.

My hope is that we get some smart folks together and revisit the original concept along with the additional set of tubes that Amtrak just proposed last year (that would truly add capacity to the Northeast Corridor), and we get this thing done right for a change, and we find a way to pay for it that doesn’t rob our citizens that see no direct benefit, and doesn’t rob tax payers in other states that really could care less about this project.

A ballot referendum on the gas tax is a good idea, we can put our money where our mouths are, and to for the poster that mentioned an elevator ride with an irate Governor Paterson, tell your friend to ask NY to pony up some dough for this thing, and maybe we can take the project off the shelf. It benefits both states, and NY refuses to pick up their share of the tab.

Jim T on October 7, 2010 at 8:42 PM

According to the quote in the article above this project would have only taken 22,000 cars off the road.

I suspect this number came from what is called a travel demand model. One of the things I do to earn my living is build and use these models.

I can tell you for a fact that 22,000 cars per day is NOTHING-it is a drop in the bucket, especially in the NY Metro area-a moderately well traveled two-lane highway (that’s one lane in each direction) can easily carry 22,000 vehicles/day. In fact I almost have to wonder if that number is accurate because it is such a small number of vehicles.

The George Washington Bridge, for example, carries 290,000 to 300,000 vehicles/day.

https://www.nysdot.gov/divisions/policy-and-strategy/darb/dai-unit/ttss/repository/Annual_Trendsr.pdf

Also if you are so inclined to believe in Anthropogenic Climate Change (or whatever it is called this week), 70,000 tons of carbon is equally a drop in the bucket.

Spending 8.7 billion dollars to reduce traffic in the NY Metro area by 22,000 vehicles is a lot of cost for very little benefit (and in fact, I suspect Christie and/or his advisors looked at cost/benefit analyses that told him them same thing).

Christie is a smart man and any way you look at it, he is making the right call here.

As far as Krugman goes, he should stick to his econometric models of comaprative advantage and all that, and leave the transport modeling to professionals who actually know what they are doing.

And Jim, as far as New York State picking up a share of the tab for this-New York doesn’t even have the money to fix potholes right now, and if the current economic situation continues they will be closing existing bridges soon – not building new river crossings.

Dreadnought on October 7, 2010 at 10:27 PM

Shoot. The Obama Recovery took at least 22,000 cars off the highway (cause the drivers lost their J-O-B-S.) Whatcha need a tunnel for, Frank?

BigAlSouth on October 7, 2010 at 8:57 PM

Actually, there’s a lot of truth in your joke-Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) after being on a steady upward trend for the last 100 years has leveled off or decreased the last few years due to the economic conditions in the US.

Dreadnought on October 7, 2010 at 10:31 PM

A ballot referendum on the gas tax is a good idea, we can put our money where our mouths are, and to for the poster that mentioned an elevator ride with an irate Governor Paterson, tell your friend to ask NY to pony up some dough for this thing, and maybe we can take the project off the shelf. It benefits both states, and NY refuses to pick up their share of the tab.

Jim T on October 7, 2010 at 8:42 PM

Umm. My understanding is that the Feds pledged $3B, and the NY Port Authority was already on the dock for another $3B. Not that that covers everything, but that would mean NJ was only in the hole for $2.7B of the original bill. How is New York not paying their fair share? Am I missing some facts here?

nukemhill on October 7, 2010 at 10:39 PM

For the questions regarding routes from NJ into Manhattan:

There are several NJ Transit rail lines that go to and from NYC and NJ. They have drastically gone up in price (doubled over the past decade with the proposal they have in place to yet again increase the fare). There are also the PATH trains that go from Newark, Hoboken, Jersey City into Manhattan.

There are also the Holland and Lincoln tunnels that you can take to drive into Manhattan, and if you’re in Northern New Jersey, the George Washington Bridge.

There are even a couple ferries that do the commute as well. One from Hoboken and another from East New York.

That said, during the morning and evening rush, every route (with the exception of the ferries) are packed and typically have over an hour wait. The trains are standing room only and often close to ‘crush capacity.’

It’s just a very crowded urban environment. Creating a new tunnel/train route, won’t do that much to alleviate the problem. It’s what happens when 5 – 10 million people typically travel to Manhattan each day. That’s amazing considering Manhattan is only 22 square miles.

njrob on October 7, 2010 at 10:41 PM

That said, we are broke and cannot afford the tunnel. The infrastructure will need to be upgraded eventually and it will be if the economy ever recovers.

As for the “lowest gasoline taxes in the nation,” we also have the highest total tax rate in the nation. Our property taxes are in the top 3, our state sales tax is 7%, our state income tax averages between 5-7% for the middle class, but jumps over 10% for high-wage earners. It’s just a heavily taxed state and we cannot afford to continue to empty our pockets to support government’s wasteful spending practices.

njrob on October 7, 2010 at 10:47 PM

It’s just a very crowded urban environment. Creating a new tunnel/train route, won’t do that much to alleviate the problem. It’s what happens when 5 – 10 million people typically travel to Manhattan each day. That’s amazing considering Manhattan is only 22 square miles.

njrob on October 7, 2010 at 10:41 PM

Sardines in a can. Another sardine-can tunnel won’t help. It sounds like a smart, free person would head in the opposite direction to Manhattan.

westerncanadian on October 7, 2010 at 11:09 PM

Umm. My understanding is that the Feds pledged $3B, and the NY Port Authority was already on the dock for another $3B. Not that that covers everything, but that would mean NJ was only in the hole for $2.7B of the original bill. How is New York not paying their fair share? Am I missing some facts here?

the PA is funded by both NJ and NY, this was the problem with Sen. Lautenberg’s last minute pitch to have the PA pick up the over runs, NJ still pays.

NY State and NYC have repeatedly refused to chip in an equal share. NY State may have even pulled out after initially promising to pay, I seem to recall something about that last year but I may be mistaken.

My point is Gov. Paterson has no reason to complain, as NY State is not paying, beyond their normal funding for the Port Authority.

Another poster mentioned that NY State is also broke. I accept that as a reason, we are too over on this side of the Hudson, and that’s why Christie is doing what he’s doing.

I suspect that this may also be a last minute scare tactic to get the feds to chip in additional unspent stimulus money, and NY State and City to also pay.

Again, this project is nice to have, but not needed. What is needed is something more to the original scope, which is to make the connection through Penn station and run to Grand Central. Access to the Regions Core.

I also don’t think the 22,000 car number is real. Though I appreciate the insight from the poster that runs these types of models. I think you’d have less people going to hoboken and taking the PATH to 33rd street, and less people taking transfers at the Secaucus Boondoggle, but no one who currently drives would change their habits.

Jim T on October 7, 2010 at 11:36 PM

Reminds me of the story of King David- he wanted to build the Temple and I am betting after years of war it would have been good for Israel’s economy but God said no. He wasn’t the man, it wasn’t the time, to build the temple.

Christie is right IMO. His years should be spent correcting his State’s budget problems and maybe asking for new ideas for the Tunnel and laying the groundwork for it to be done later (if he gets 2 terms maybe at the end of his 2nd term) or by a future governor, and be happy with the sound financial footing he is trying to put in place for the future.

journeyintothewhirlwind on October 7, 2010 at 11:53 PM

I pretty much agree with Jim T here. Something needs to be done, this wasn’t it, so good for Christie on that score at least. Now will he start looking into a more rational transportation plan and better ways of paying for it? We’ll see, though even if he did if it’s rational I doubt it’ll get part NJ democrats and public unions.

At least the French get decent roads out of it.

Here, we’d get the $100 fill ups, and the potholes would be bigger and more numerous than before.

Gator Country on October 7, 2010 at 10:05 PM

Hey, we’d get DMV workers making enough to be in the much reviled over $250,000 category.

Think of the bureaucrats, won’t anyone think of the bureaucrats?

jarodea on October 8, 2010 at 12:07 AM

I also don’t think the 22,000 car number is real. Though I appreciate the insight from the poster that runs these types of models. I think you’d have less people going to hoboken and taking the PATH to 33rd street, and less people taking transfers at the Secaucus Boondoggle, but no one who currently drives would change their habits.

Jim T on October 7, 2010 at 11:36 PM

You’re probably right-but in that case it will only be harder to get someone to pony up the money, if it is only reducing travel time for existing transit riders.

Dreadnought on October 8, 2010 at 12:08 AM

Someone from New York… how many tunnels go into Manhattan? Is there not a train that runs from NJ to Manhattan?

upinak on October 7, 2010 at 8:13 PM

There are already commuter trains under the Hudson River, from Hoboken to the World Trade Center, which was destroyed by the 9/11 attacks.

These trains connect on the Manhattan side to four stations up to the Empire State Building, which allows connections to the New York City subways. On the New Jerey side, these trains connect to Journal Square Jersey City and Newark Airport, all of which comprise the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) system.

While there could be some justification for another train tunnel under the Hudson further north, the main problems for Gov. Christie was that the new train doesn’t connect to existing stations on the New York side, and why would the State of New Jersey have to bear ALL the additional cost, without the City or State of New York pitching in?

Christie made the right decision here.

Steve Z on October 8, 2010 at 12:36 AM

Who the heck is kidding who here, right. All one has to do is look at the massive Big Dig fiasoc:

But Boston, backed by powerful House Speaker Tip O’Neill, won money for the underground proposal and embarked on the Central Artery/Tunnel Project, which has become known simply as the “Big Dig.” The scandal-plagued construction endeavor has become the most expensive public works project in the nation’s history, at an estimated $13.6 billion.

And that was in the early nineties to be completed in 2006! But as usuall:
http://www.boston.com/news/specials/bechtel/part_1/

And from “The Boss” herself: http://michellemalkin.com/2010/09/08/the-mother-of-all-big-dig-boondoggles/

auspatriotman on October 8, 2010 at 1:07 AM

45,000 permanent jobs? That’s a LOT of people to run a tunnel. Or is this a brand new train line? (And even if that is the case, 45,000 still seems like way, way too much)

What exactly are 45,000 people going to be doing every day for this train? All of Amtrak only employs 19,000 people.

Someone trying to tell me this train line is going to employ double what all of Amtrak does?

Something isn’t right with that number.

ButterflyDragon on October 8, 2010 at 1:08 AM

The pro-tunnel side may have a decent argument, but it’s over-stated. Fewer cars may enter the city, but people will still have to drive to wherever they pick up this new commuter train just as they do now. And what about those 45,000 permanent jobs? First, that seems awfully high and, second, unless the state is planning to turn over the operation to private contractors, those will be NJ Transit jobs, gubmint jobs, and we all know how costly they are. And, third, I object to taxes paid at the gas pump going to mass transit projects. Those taxes are supposed to be paying for our highway infrastructure which currently is going begging. I do not wish to hand over additional taxes to the politicians for their pork barrel transportation projects. But, hey, if New Jerseyans want to finance this tunnel with higher gas taxes, all the while knowing that however much they’re raised, it won’t be enough, then let them. Somehow I feel, however, it won’t be just New Jersey footing the bill (I wonder what my share of the Big Dig was).

SukieTawdry on October 8, 2010 at 1:41 AM

45,000 permanent jobs? That’s a LOT of people to run a tunnel. Or is this a brand new train line? (And even if that is the case, 45,000 still seems like way, way too much)

What exactly are 45,000 people going to be doing every day for this train? All of Amtrak only employs 19,000 people.

Someone trying to tell me this train line is going to employ double what all of Amtrak does?

Something isn’t right with that number.

ButterflyDragon on October 8, 2010 at 1:08 AM

Sukietawdry as well, pretty sure that includes private sector jobs created by easier and lower cost (I presume) transportation. Generally speaking, these days I think they overestimate the number of jobs transportation projects create. Usually a new highway or bridge doesn’t lower cost 80%+ like railroads or 50%+ like highways in the 50′s. 1 or 2% is more likely, but this may be a case where due to the Hudson River bottleneck estimates could be accurate.

jarodea on October 8, 2010 at 1:47 AM

Someone should sue. Surely the commerce clause forbids a governor from canceling such projects.

xblade on October 8, 2010 at 2:23 AM

The serious man’s solution — get rid of prevailing wage rules and streamline econuts regulations. The project could then be done within budget and in less time.

drfredc on October 8, 2010 at 2:36 AM

Thank you Gov. Christie! I, too, live in South Jersey and we don’t want to pay for it with higher gas taxes. Unless you live right across the river from Philly, Public transportation in this part of the state means you have a choice of a bus or a train that runs East-West and only has 5-6 stops. We have no choice but to drive everywhere. South Jersey could be paying a disproportionate share of the cost of the tunnel which we would rarely use.

Beaglemom on October 8, 2010 at 6:53 AM

I live in NJ and use the train to commute to New York every day. I think the new tunnel is really necessary. It’s going to be used for trains between New Jersey and New York. The problem right now is that there is only one track for inbound trains and one for outbound trains. At least once a week a train breaks down in the tunnel, which can cause delays that last for hours. The other problem is that the current tunnel is run by Amtrak, so they get priority for their trains even though they account for only a small fraction of the traffic in terms of passengers using the tunnel.

I know A new tunnel will be expensive, and I’m really happy with Chris Christie in most things, but I think he’s wrong here. This seems to me to be the sort of project on which it is appropriate for the government to spend money. It would be a great benefit to thousands of commuters and their families.

GeorgeStanton on October 8, 2010 at 7:08 AM

What always grates on me with these huge public construction projects are the “cost overruns” such as we saw infamously in Boston’s Big Dig. Why are there no consequences for these? Aren’t contracts signed? Why does no one go to jail for this?

If I were in Christie’s position I would not even consider any project of this type without a rock solid, binding cost estimate.

jwolf on October 8, 2010 at 8:37 AM


Assemblyman John Wisniewski, a Sayreville Democrat who chairs the transportation committee, said the project would have meant $18 billion in economic activity and is the only way to relieve congestion on a rail system relying on tunnels at 98 percent of capacity. He called Christie’s decision a “travesty.”

Of course this is a D saying that the PATH is nearly at capacity.

As far as a gas tax, I would hate to live in south NJ and have to pay for a tunnel into NY.

If this tunnel is such an economically valuable, then make it a toll tunnel and let it raise the bucks. In LA, with as many kick back problems as NJ, they felt that a 26 mile Causeway bridge was an economic value. The thing has made so much money it built another 2 lanes and is about to build another 2 lanes. So much money, the “temporary” toll and commission is becoming permanent.

barnone on October 8, 2010 at 9:14 AM

and Jersey’s gas tax is already among the lowest in the nation

You make that sound like a bad thing.

Low taxes = good.

Pretty simple concept AP. Maybe you would prefer that NJ and NY residents pay like the French do? Ten years ago that was $2 US a liter. I remember those $100 fill ups really sucking, even if the roads were fantastic.

Jim708 on October 7, 2010 at 9:53 PM

No, AP doesn’t say it like it’s a bad thing. He says it like it’s a fact. He wouldn’t be much of a blogger if he didn’t mention it.

TedInATL on October 8, 2010 at 9:43 AM

I will be pissed as hell if they raise the gas tax for us in NJ. We already pay ridiculous taxes as it is. Just look at our property taxes. Enough is enough with the taxes. We won’t take it anymore.

keepinitreal on October 8, 2010 at 9:58 AM

The times may change, but the boondoggles sure don’t. Several times during the early part of the 1900′s, the Army Corp of Engineers were told to dig a cross Florida barge canal to help speed up barge traffic from the Gulf to
Atlantic. The people of Florida put a final stop to it and saved the state a ton of money but probably costing jobs at the time. Maybe the can put a stop to the bullet trains today being planned for Orl/Tpa.

Kissmygrits on October 8, 2010 at 10:10 AM

As someone who has lived in NJ since 2002, I’ll take a shot at some of the questions I’ve seen in the comments.

1) Are there trains from NJ to NYC? Absolutely! Go to njtransit.com and check it out.

2) Do we need that second rail tunnel (or a tunnel like it, one that actually goes to Penn or Grand Central)? Heck yeah! Those trains get *jammed.* Think about it… you’re trying to get 45,000 people in every morning and out every evening through one dual-track hole in the ground. At the Newark and Secaucus stops, more than half a dozen train lines converge onto that single tunnel line; trains in each direction every half hour per line still means a train is moving through that tunnel every two minutes. That may seem reasonable to someone who doesn’t think about the safety and national security challenges.

3) Would raising our gas taxes 5c/g take care of the problem? No way. Liberals won’t be happy until NJ people pay the same for gas as NY people, which would be another 30c/g, give or take. Raise it once, and it will keep getting raised to that threshold. The project would have that much breathing room to keep going over budget.

4) Why are our gas taxes so low? Move here and find out. We pay among the highest taxes in the nation even with that low gas tax.

5) What impact would raising the gas tax have on the typical Jersey resident? It depends on who you’re asking.

It would have a modest impact on me. I probably wouldn’t drive any less.

The problem is that the liberals who want to raise that tax are largely NYC and Philly train commuters who don’t drive to work anyway. They’re not the poor people trying to scrape together a living within Newark, Paterson, Jersey City, or Trenton. Poor people still put on their cars as many miles as middle class people when they get to their Jersey-side jobs and go to the grocery store, and, as poor people drive older cars, they use more gas to do so. Liberals cry about such poverty, but then they advocate policies that will hurt that the impoverished more than anyone else! Keeping such a regressive tax low is one of the most generous things we can do.

6) Is there a solution? Sure! In asking for an estimate, cap costs for materials at current fair market value plus future CPI-based inflation. Contractually cap the total labor cost, and let the contractors and labor unions then figure out how they will ensure worker safety, enhance worker productivity, and come in under budget. Anything under budget, as long as it’s also under deadline, the contractors would then be contract-bound to spread >50% as bonuses to their workers. If the tunnel fails due to poor workmanship, the contractors are on the hook for all repairs and lawsuit damages. I bet the finished product would be just as good of a tunnel if not better, and it would open in 2015, not 2018!!!!!

flutejpl on October 8, 2010 at 10:22 AM

INC on October 7, 2010 at 8:15 PM

Two tunnels and two bridges to NYC, all are usually backed up going and coming. The PATH train goes to numerous places in the city and originates in Hoboken. There are also numerous ferries to and from NY to NJ. A new tunnel is only going to support the union and create 45,000 permanent SEIU jobs, to which I say, “Go suck on it!”. If it ever gets to a vote on a ballot, I will vote against it.

I go into the city several times a year, Yankees games, Rangers games, and a few shows on Broadway. I don’t have a problem getting in or out. I do have a problem with the toll going up on a regular basis.

belad on October 8, 2010 at 10:48 AM

My only question is…why did Christie ever believe that any project cost estimate like this was correct at the outset? Isn’t that a bit naive? What evidence is there that projects of this nature ever come in on budget? None. They invariably come in late and grossly over-budget. I would have to call a bit of campaign pandering on this one, but not so much that it spoils my Christie-crush (just for NJ, not the US as a whole). A dwarf “Ah, sh*t and a giant “attaboy” on this one.

Extrafishy on October 8, 2010 at 11:15 AM

45,000 permanent jobs is a flat out lie.

20M people on any given day are in Manhattan ALONE, one of the 5 buroughs. Traffic, delays, congestion are part of that 20M folks each day.

Now compare a monthly train pass on PATH or NJ Transit to car tolls each month. The difference is “convenience” I have commuted via train, bus and car – to and from Manhattan for about 8 years, from NJ, SI, Bronx and Beacon (upstate Metro North line)

$7-$9 toll a day x 22 working days = $154-$198 + gas and mileage.

I kow people who drive 1 hour from NJ – and others who sit on a train for 1 1/2 and others who take the ferry, via train or car across the Hudson.

Lastly – the rise of Jersey City’s businesses along with Newark have “lightened” the NJ – Manhattan load over the past 10 years.

This is nothing more than pandering to the “us’s” vs the “thems” Phony employment numbers, phony costs and phony “needs”

Odie1941 on October 8, 2010 at 1:31 PM

There are already commuter trains from NJ into Manhattan. Can someone from the area tell us if they’re insufficient?

They are grossly insufficient. Over the last decade, the signals have been reworked to allow trains to follow more closely and the cars have been replaced with close-packed double-deckers. But during the key commuting hours there is no spare capacity and certainly no reserve capacity.

This project has been cut down several times and a lot of benefits have been cut because of the cost. But the real problem isn’t that it isn’t needed or that a tunnel can’t be afforded. The problem is that the cost of building anything is too high. The cost of regulatory compliance has been estimated at 1/7 the cost of everything–the same fraction as health care costs to the economy as a whole. Note that this is not the cost of clean construction or restoring wetlands; that’s included in it, but much of it is the cost of study upon study, of delay upon delay, hearing upon hearing.

NY/NJ also has the highest unionized costs in the country, and the federal government has been making that worse for years.

Yes, this tunnel is needed. In fact, the originally planned tunnel would be a great benefit. But we’ve done everything possible to make it unaffordable.

What was cut from the tunnel? Well, the tunnel will be of no use without new station platforms. There is no room within the boundaries of Penn Station, so a new station must be built under a major avenue. The tunnel to it will have no connections to the existing tracks and the existing Penn Station, meaning no way to reroute trains if things go wrong. The only connection will be via the main lines back in New Jersey.

In addition, the capacity of the new station was cut by one third because of the cost of relocating utilities. And there was a plan to extend the station to provide room for “tail tracks” on which to store trains, and to provide a possible connection to the northgoing tracks out of Grand Central Terminal. The tail tracks won’t be built, although there will be a few extra feet of tunnel so that if the money is found for the connection work can proceed without shutting down the station. (Even if the money were available now it could not be done because the tracks would have to pass between a subway tunnel and a gargantuan water tunnel (water main). It’s too close to do that until there is a backup for that tunnel. The project to build that backup has been underway for about twenty years, and is continuing quietly and more or less continuously.)

One more question: could NYC do without the train connections? Not unless you tripled the number of vehicular crossing and that means six (maybe five) new tunnels. It’s not going to happen; you would have to tear huge cuts through communities on the NJ side, you would run into every kind of community opposition on the NY side (I don’t agree with the opposition; I think it’s shortsighted, selfish, and stupid, but it will happen) and you would have to add four more lanes to the NJ Turnpike mainline and eastern spur, for which there is neither room nor money.

njcommuter on October 8, 2010 at 5:05 PM

I was born & raised in NJ. My family still lives there. My father commuted to NYC for 38 yrs by bus to work there… and paid both NY + NJ state taxes besides fed income taxes.

Seing that the state was being run into the ground by the likes of Lautenberg, among other Democrats & the unions… I left. Now, as a physician, I could return, but for what? More garbage projects? More taxes?

Those who are proponents of this project need to look for cheaper options to fill the need. More ferries. Work only NJ. Or move to NY if that is where the job is…

Choices & hard decisions are having to be made now – due to poor decision making by prior politicians. I agree with the above commenter who decried Christie not addressing the costs to the taxpayer to provide free health care, education and housing subsidies, and costs of incarceration of illegals. Hopefully he will get around to address this as well.

The bed is made. Now the people are starting to realize that it has been short-sheeted. Be thankful, though stopping this project now may seem like a big disappointment… it is the smart thing to do.

NJ politics have long been dominated by ‘D’s (Dumbasses) and ‘R’s (fiscal Retards). So far, Christie should have his ‘R’ replaced with a ‘B’… for Balls.

BTW – folks like Krugman who decry this position do NOT have NJ interests in mind. After all, neither his money (besides the stimulus) nor any other TriState Democrat would be footing the difference.

Wake up NJ! This is your chance to be creative to find cheaper solutions to the transportation problems. If the politicians that represent you are not thinking about these things… vote them out and vote more like Christie into office.

Also, don’t lt the global warming proponents drive transportation & infrastructure agenda. If you let them define the project – for a sham belief system – you’ll pay more taxes with little return.

Keep making hard fiscal decisions and turn the state around. Then, perhaps folks like myself may consider moving back and spend our hard-earned $$ in NJ. Until then… not a chance.

Danny on October 9, 2010 at 8:26 AM