NORTH BERGEN – Standing at the construction site where ground was broken last year to begin the ARC Tunnel project, U.S. Senators Frank R. Lautenberg and Robert Menendez and Reps. Albio Sires, Frank Pallone Jr., Steve Rothman and Assemblyman John Wisniewski today urged Governor Chris Christie to get the project back on track.
The state’s current halt on the project could cost New Jersey thousands of jobs and lead to the loss of billions in funding from the federal government and the Port Authority, the Democrats said. Earlier this week, Christie froze all new work on the project for 30 days because of concerns that it could go as much as $1 billion over budget.
The ARC Tunnel is slated to receive $3 billion in federal funds, the largest federal contribution to a mass transit project in the history of the nation, and $3 billion from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. New Jersey is responsible for the remaining costs, currently estimated at $2.7 billion.
Some have speculated that Christie intends kill the project and re-direct New Jersey’s contribution to the state’s depleted Transportation Trust Fund. Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson told reporters that he didn’t know about any plans to do that when asked yesterday.
The project will create 6,000 construction-related jobs a year and 44,000 permanent jobs once completed, according to proponents. It will also get 22,000 cars off the roads every day and eliminate nearly 70,000 tons of harmful greenhouse gasses gases every year, they said.
“The ARC Tunnel project is New Jersey’s best opportunity to put people to work and repair the economy,” said Lautenberg, who as a member of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee has led the federal funding effort in Washington. “Killing this project would cost our state thousands of good paying jobs and send billions of dollars slated for New Jersey off to other projects around the country. The Governor must work to advance the ARC Tunnel so that we can boost New Jersey’s economic recovery and avoid a future of busier highways, longer commutes and more pollution. Let’s get this project back on track and get this tunnel built.”
“Stalling this project is putting the $3 billion of federal funds at risk and state investment in this project is necessary, especially during these hard economic times,” said Sires. “This project is good for the economy – it will fund 6,000 construction jobs and in the long-term create over 45,000 permanent jobs.”
“The Hudson Tunnel project is crucial to the stability of New Jersey’s economy,” said Pallone. “Aside from creating thousands of construction and engineering jobs, it would also ease an over-burdened commuter rail system and create much-needed infrastructure in New Jersey. The federal government has invested $3 billion in this project, and moving forward with it is important to maintaining this investment. I urge the governor to move forward with this project.”
“The ARC Tunnel provides a needed capability to our aging and overburdened transportation infrastructure, creates jobs, and improves the business and non-business quality of life for the people of our region,” stated Rep. Rothman.
“We’ve got a major impending disaster on our hands with the decision to put ARC on hold,” said Rob Freudenberg, New Jersey Director of Regional Plan Association. “There is not a more clear-cut instance of a project with tremendous public benefits that will improve the region for decades to come. Having a showdown over the project’s potential increasing costs could mean we end up losing the biggest transit project — and perhaps the largest job creation project– in America. This would be an enormous loss to the NY – NJ region and the Northeast if it were to happen. We urge all parties involved from the State to the FTA to the Port Authority to resolve this issue quickly to get ARC back on track.”
The ARC Tunnel project will double commuter rail capacity by adding two new single-track tunnels – supplementing the existing two tracks that opened for service in 1910 and now are pushed to their functional limits each commuting day. Doubling the number of tracks for trains operating between New Jersey and New York will increase service capacity to 48 trains per hour during peak periods from the current 23 trains. Twice as many passengers will be able to be accommodated, from 46,000 each morning peak period now to 90,000 in the future.
However, the new tunnel will not link up with New York’s Penn Station or Grand Central Station. It will instead end at a new station 180 feet below ground, two blocks away from Penn Station.
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!