The largest federal transit investment in American history is on its deathbed, reports Andrea Bernstein at Transportation Nation. Three sources have told Bernstein that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is ready to pull the plug on the plan to double rail capacity under the Hudson River this week, though Christie denies his mind is made up.
We’ve already outlined just how important this project is to the future of New Jersey and how shortsighted this decision would be for the Christie administration, so with this devastating news, the only thing we can do is look forward.
First, the predictable stuff: If ARC dies, New Jersey will keep its $2.7 billion share of project funds, which Christie is expected to use to patch up the state’s Transportation Trust Fund for a couple of years so that he doesn’t have to raise the gas tax to pay for the state’s roads. The Port Authority will recoup its $3 billion, some of which will end up back in New Jersey and some in New York. The authority’s capital plan currently calls for no new pieces of infrastructure, so it’s possible this money will fund necessary repairs on existing bridges and tunnels.
The wildcard is where the Federal Transit Administration’s $3 billion winds up. When New York City activists defeated the Westway highway project 25 years ago, House Speaker Tip O’Neill managed to capture a large share of its funding for Boston’s Big Dig. The $350 million that US DOT offered New York to help implement congestion pricing in 2008 almost ended up paying for a Chicago BRT system, though Chicago ultimately balked as well.
Who will get the billions of dollars that Christie is on the verge of passing up? Place your bets — or vent your anger — in the comments.