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Rail Megaproject at Crossroads In Fight Over New Jersey Funds

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Work resumed on Oct. 5 on $1.7 billion of road and transit work in New Jersey, shut down three days prior by Gov. Christopher Christie (R) after state legislators agreed to approve $1.25 billion in bond financing through next March. Lawmakers had balked because Christie would not commit to the state’s $2.7-billion share of an $8.7-billion Hudson River rail tunnel, a move that could kill the project, called Access to the Region’s Core (ARC). A 30-day project cost review is set to end on Oct. 9. Published reports say Christie is concerned about ARC cost overruns and wants the state’s share to replenish its own depleted transportation fund. Federal and regional entities are providing $6 billion in additional project funds. Some ARC critics suggest cost-saving by not building a new rail terminus in midtown Manhattan as planned. But an ARC official says the existing Penn Station cannot accommodate more trains and that “engineering issues and the impact on private property” require the new station and new, deeper tunnels. He says reviewing other alternatives “would set the project back at least two years” and not allow it to take advantage of cost-savings in the current construction market. “The die seems to be cast,” he says.

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