New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is standing by his decision to kill the nation's biggest public works project, a train tunnel connecting New Jersey to New York City, he announced Wednesday.
Christie, a rising star in the Republican Party for his fearless budget-slashing, has argued that his cash-strapped state can't afford to pay for any overruns on the $9 billion-plus rail tunnel under the Hudson River. The state is on the hook for $2.7 billion plus overruns.
The federal government and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are each contributing $3 billion.
The decision, first reported by The Star-Ledger of Newark, comes after half the NJ Transit system train schedule was either canceled or rerouted due to a train derailment at the New York entrance to the tunnel on Monday morning
"You get late to work, you get late home," complained commuter Puja Sethi, 31, of Edison, N.J., who then said the governor should "have another tunnel open up."
Mass transit advocates agree.
Zoe Baldwin of Tri-state Transportation Campaign said "Commuters would have been saved a lot of time if they had the tunnel."
"What it does is it creates redundancy which means if one tunnel is blocked off you can go into the other tunnel," she added.
But Governor Christie has argued the state is broke, and he can't ask taxpayers to pony up any more than that $2.7 billion of its share of the $8.7 billion project.
Supporters of the project say it will drastically slash -- even by half-- the commute times between the crowded, traffic-clogged routes between New Jersey and New York.
Commuter Gary Gengel of Princeton agrees with Christie that the project is just too costly.
"It's too expensive," Gengel said on the platform in Newark, then added "What we need to do is improve the service."
Gengel also said New York should pick up at least some of the cost, something neither Mayor Bloomberg nor Governor Patterson has said they can afford.
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