Friday, April 13, 2012

New Jersey Governor’s Great Train Robbery

Governor Chris Christie’s 2010 cancellation of the Hudson River rail tunnel construction project ended up robbing federal taxpayers of $176 million the governor then used to shore up the state’s general transportation budget, all based on the governor’s inflated estimates of the state’s share of the tunnel project cost, according to a GAO report released April 10. Christie shifted a total of $2 billion away from the 8.8 mile tunnel project into the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund, and when the feds demanded return of the $271 million in U. S. taxpayer dollars already spent on the scotched project, Christie negotiated a reduction in the refund to a mere $95 million.

GAO says cancellation of the project cost New Jersey 59,900 construction jobs, a total of 98,300 regional jobs during the project, and 44,000 permanent jobs upon completion of the tunnel. GAO’s report says the ten year area loss in personal incomes from the project amounts to $4 billion. The new tunnel would have replaced two existing smaller rail tunnels under the Hudson River which are over 100 years old.

New Jersey’s U. S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg summarized the GAO report, saying the tunnel project “was … the most important transportation project of our time … critical to the future of New Jersey’s economy and it took years to plan. But Governor Christie wiped it out with a campaign of public deception.”

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