TRENTON, N.J. — Under pressure from the Obama administration, Republican Gov. Chris Christie agreed Friday to rethink his decision to cancel construction of a $9 billion rail tunnel connecting New Jersey and New York City.
Christie, a rising star in the GOP with a reputation as a fearless protector of the taxpayers’ money, announced on Thursday that he was pulling the plug on the project because of runaway costs — a decision that led to an outcry from Democrats who said it would cost the state thousands of badly needed construction jobs and cripple New Jersey’s long-term economy.
But after meeting for nearly an hour Friday with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the governor agreed to listen to ideas for pressing ahead with the project, known as ARC, for Access to the Region’s Core. It is the biggest public transit project under way in the nation.
“The fact that the ARC project is not financially viable and is expected to dramatically exceed its current budget remains unchanged,” Christie said. He added, though, that LaHood “presented several options to potentially salvage a trans-Hudson tunnel project.”
The tunnel, which has been in the works for about 20 years, would run underneath the Hudson River, connecting New Jersey with Manhattan.