NJ Senator Wants Probe Into Cancellation of Hudson Tunnel Project

Governor Christie says taxpayers can't afford it

Thursday, Oct 28, 2010  |  Updated 5:59 PM EDT
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NJ Senator Wants Probe Into Cancellation of Hudson Tunnel Project

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Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a proponent of the project, says he wants more information about the role state Transportation Commissioner James Simpson played in its scrapping.

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg is calling for an investigation into the cancellation of the underwater rail tunnel linking New Jersey and New York City.

Lautenberg says he wants more information about the role state Transportation Commissioner James Simpson played and whether he violated state ethics laws by participating in the process.

Simpson oversaw work on the tunnel while he was the head of the Federal Transit Administration under President George W. Bush.

Simpson officially recused himself on Oct. 5, two days before Gov. Chris Christie first announced that he was canceling the nation's largest infrastructure project then under way. Simpson's office did not immediately respond to a call for comment on Thursday.

Christie said Wednesday a careful analysis over the past two and a half weeks since he first tried to kill the tunnel tell him there is "a one in six chance" the final price tag could actually go over the $5 billion 'high end" overrun estimate.

Proponents of the tunnel "are asking for a blank check. I simply will not do that," Christie said.

Christie pointed out that to date, New York had not offered up money for the project. The Governor did suggest if New York and Amtrak were to share in the cost, the plans would be worth revisiting.

The chairman of the Assembly's Transportation Committee, John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), called it an "historically bad" decision that "will haunt New Jersey for generations."

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