Over-budget ARC tunnel commuter train project canceled
One of the key components of the Obama administration’s plan for America’s economic recovery is infrastructure projects that create jobs and bolster commerce. The potential influx of new jobs is particularly valuable in light of runaway unemployment. Unfortunately, not all public works projects get off the ground. NJ.com reports that the New York to New Jersey ARC (Access to the Region’s Core) tunnel project will be terminated for the second time because of budget issues. The commuter train tunnel would have been the United States’ largest public works project.
Estimated $2.3 billion overrun killed the ARC tunnel
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie officially killed the over-budget infrastructure project that would have extended a commuter train tunnel under the Hudson River from New Jersey into midtown Manhattan, N.Y. “I cannot place, upon the citizens of the state of New Jersey, an open-ended letter of credit,” he told the press. This is the second time the ARC tunnel has been canceled during its nearly two-decade run of planning and development. Back on Oct. 7, Gov. Christie scrapped the project because of a minimum budget overrun of $2.3 billion and a maximum of $5.3 billion, although U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood convinced Christie to extend a grace period while alternate means of funding were researched. The initial estimated cost of the ARC tunnel was $8.7 billion.
No ‘Big Dig’
Gov. Christie was wary that the ARC tunnel would become an embarrassment like Boston’s “Big Dig” mega-tunnel that ended up costing 10 times more than the initial $2.8 billion estimate. The ARC tunnel would theoretically double train capacity to and from New York City by 2018 – increasing job options for cash-strapped New Jerseyites by as much as 45,000 permanent positions – but runaway costs made the tunnel’s worth questionable. Planning and design have already cost $600 million. The lack of progress prompted the people of New Jersey to affix the ARC tunnel project with the unflattering moniker “The Tunnel to Macy’s Basement.” Gov. Christie felt going any further would be a gamble New Jersey taxpayers would have to pay off in perpetuity.
Without the ARC tunnel, New Jersey’s best commuter train option into New York is a century-old two-track tunnel that can handle a mere 23 trains.