ARC Post-Mortem: Chris Christie Afraid to Bite the Bullet

After yesterday’s ARC decision, I couldn’t help thinking of this morsel of wisdom from New York Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch last April:

The difficulty, politically, in my judgment, is very obvious. There are very few short-term dividends, for people who run for office, in long-term investments. They don’t get the benefit out of it… The benefits may not be realized until future generations. That is a political problem.

People are going to have to bite the bullet, in terms of usage charges and various taxes that will generate the revenue streams we need in order to build.

Ravitch was referring to the New York State Legislature’s failure to enact bridge tolls, but he might as well have been talking about Chris Christie’s refusal to raise New Jersey’s gas tax, which has been locked in at 10.5 cents a gallon since Reagan was president. Adjusting for inflation, it has never been lower than it is today.

Christie can say this decision was about cost-cutting, but we’re talking about an investment that would have paid off handsomely, even with cost overruns. Really, Christie just couldn’t bite the bullet. Instead of raising the gas tax to pay for transportation, he raided funds committed to one of the most important transit projects in the nation and borrowed more to keep on expanding roads.

So, New Jersey, here is a sneak preview of the future bequeathed to you by your governor:

Hat tip to Clarence for the video.

  • Glenn

    I know several people at my office who were not only looking forward to an easier commute, but were also optimistic that this project would boost their property values. Christie just lost a lot of votes in commuter rail New Jersey.

  • anon

    A sad day for New Jersey. I’m not sure they will get a second chance at 6 billion from the Fed and Port Authority in our lives.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Let’s get that money for New York, and have the second phase of the SAS and MetroNorth to Penn ready for the completon of the first phase of the SAS an ESA.

    Anything that isn’t done in the next few years won’t be done at all, as the Baby Boomers retire and the cost of senior benefits soar.

    And the SAS needs to get to 125th & Lex for the same reason ARC was required. In part to improve the quality of life on the Upper East Side, but more to provide redunancy to allow shutdowns for repairs and protect the Bronx from massive disruption due to a problem with the Lex. We need the ability to transfer there.

  • J

    I’m not seeing the video. Ben?

  • Video?

  • jsd

    So, forgive my ignorance here. For long term prospects, doesn’t this mean less people living far away from their place of work? Doesn’t this mean a larger live in tax base for New York? I truly believe that we will be seeing higher tolls/gas prices in the middle term as well, and this will seriously affect out of state commuting drivers. Sure, this does not bode well for New Jersey, and New York did lose a lot of federal money as well. But it is also an incentive for people to not only live here, but work here, and instead of fleeing to Jersey once the kids are out of school, stay here.

  • anon

    Agreed, Bloomberg and the State should jump on this cash to make major investments in the LIE, and maybe even build another Brooklyn-to-Manhattan crossing.

    Why not an express MTA train tunnel that runs from Brooklyn straight into Midtown? We could connect it with the JFK airtrain and make it a 20 minute shot to Grand Central.

  • Looks like the video disappeared after a WordPress hiccup. It’s back now.

  • Port Authority isn’t in the business of funding New York’s subway tunnels; it’s only in the business of funding crossings between New York and New Jersey. Don’t you just love agency turf?

  • SheetsM

    I have no plans of working in New York, but I do have plans for the money I earn ans it doesn’t include paying higher gasoline taxes, or any other taxes, to fund the tunnel. Good decision.

  • Sheesh. I understand why all the auto-welfare queens think they’re entitled to underpay for the roads they use, but it’s still annoying they think all spending that’s not on them is evil.

  • SurlyRider

    If we increase capacity, won’t that then in turn drive up usage, and in turn make it more crowded, and less desirable?

    These companies should move to NJ, this is a much more environmentally friendly way to address the capacity issues. Move the jobs to where the people live.

  • SurlyRider

    A better solution would be to move the jobs to NJ. This has less impact environmentally, and would free up scarce dollars for more pressing needs, like funding complete streets initiatives in areas that need improvements.

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