NEW JERSEY - Hudson County Democrats joined the state's Democratic Congressional delegation today to express outrage over Gov. Christopher Christie's plan to re-examine the construction and funding of the new rail tunnel to Manhattan.
Hudson County County Executive Thomas DeGise, North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco, and state Assemblyman Vincent Prieto joined U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, and U.S. Rep. Steven Rothman at the construction site of the Access to the Region's Core (ARC) project - an $8 billion rail tunnel between New Jersey and New York City that is expected to double rail capacity and create thousands of jobs, if built.
"What's our message here today?" Lautenberg asked at a press conference Friday. "Our message is pretty simple. We don't want to be another parking lot for New York. We're standing up for New Jersey jobs. We're here today to tell the governor, don't throw away the 40,000 [permanent] jobs that will be created after the tunnel is completed. Don't clog up our streets and roads with cars. Don't throw away the $6 billion that's already been committed for this project. Is the governor saying we don't need $6 billion?"
Estimates predict the ARC could remove as many as 22,000 cars from New Jersey roadways and ease pollution in the state. Approximately 6,000 short-term jobs would be created, in addition to the estimated 44,000 long-term jobs.
Nearly $6 billion has already been secured for the project, which is estimated to cost about $8.7 billion total.
Groundbreaking for the project took place in North Bergen in June 2009.
But Gov. Christie has said he'd like to re-examine the project, particularly since the state may have to pay all or a portion of the remaining costs associated with the ARC. The governor has indicated he might halt the project for some period to evaluate it more closely.
Sen. Menendez and Rep. Rothman, however, said that the federal dollars that have already been committed to the project are matching dollars that can only be used if New Jersey helps pay for the new rail system. Should the state back away from it, they cautioned, the fed with take back the billions earmarked for the project and reallocate the money to other transportation projects elsewhere around the country. - E. Assata Wright