Star-Ledger journalist Tom Moran, in an interview on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC on November 15, said that politics factored in to Gov. Christie’s decision to cancel the ARC trans-Hudson tunnel. Moran noted that opposition to rail projects, including high-speed rail as well as commuter rail projects, are popular with conservatives, “who are in the ascendancy.” The Governor’s opposition to a gas tax increase can be traced to the same motivation, Moran said, as can be the proposals from newly elected Republican governors in several states to cancel high-speed rail projects. Moran said that the failure to build any tunnel would hurt New Jersey economically, as the existing tunnels are at capacity and “many of the new jobs in Manhattan will now go to (residents of) Westchester and Long Island, not New Jersey.” However, Moran said, the Governor’s ARC decision is “popular in New Jersey; Gov. Christie is very persuasive.” Still, “[t]urning back $3 billion (in Federal funding) is unprecedented,” he said. But $1.5 billion of the funding was actually for “congestion relief,” and that might be reallocated to other transportation projects—Moran said, “Most people say it was his plan all along.” About the $270 million already spent and that the federal government has demanded that New Jersey return, Moran said, “the lawyers are thrashing it out.”
The Lackawanna Coalition believes that a tunnel under the Hudson will be necessary, but that the ARC proposal just cancelled was an inefficient, wasteful design. The Coalition believes that all interested bodies should work together on a nonpartisan basis to plan an effective solution to regional commuter and intercity transportation needs.