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Kate Zernike gave New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie a couple of breaks in her story Tuesday about his rationale for canceling the Trans-Hudson Passenger Rail Tunnel. Citing a soon-to-be released report from the Government Accountability Office, the New York Times reporter wrote that the Republican governor "exaggerated" and "misstated" the situation. Uh-huh. Long words for "lied."

In his election campaign, Christie had backed the multi-billion project to put a second pair of tracks between his state and Manhattan that would have reduced traffic congestion and vastly improved the overcrowded mass transit of the area. Currently, the route is served by a pair of century-old tunnels and when there is a slowdown for any reason, it ripples across passenger rail traffic throughout the region. But in October 2010, a year after the $8.7 billion Trans-Hudson project broke ground, Christie shot it down. His justification? Cost concerns. The move was a devastating blow to the hopes of transportation officials and everyone else who had been planning the tunnel project for 20 years:

• Christie claimed state officials had revised costs for the project to as high as $14 billion. But the GAO report says the cost estimates had not been changed in the two years before the governor canceled the project. State officials, according to the GAO, said those wouldn't rise above $10 billion.

• The governor said New Jersey would pay for 70 percent of the project. The GAO says the state was paying 14.4 percent.

• Cost overruns, Christie claimed, would have to be covered by the state. The GAO says no final agreement had been made and that the feds had offered to share such costs.

A spokesman for the governor claims the report reinforces the view of the Christie administration that the tunnel project "was a very, very bad deal for New Jersey."

Martin E. Robins, the founding director of the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University and an early director of the [Trans-Hudson] project, criticized the governor. “In hindsight, it’s apparent that he had a highly important political objective: to cannibalize the project so he could find an alternate way of keeping the transportation trust fund program moving, and he went ahead and did it,” he said.
Like Christie, many Republican leaders have bolstered their public image by showing everyone how supposedly frugal they are. The governor's action on the Trans-Hudson project will actually have the opposite effect, costing commuters and businesses throughout the area immense sums every year because of transit delays. Bad enough he made the decision. Pathetic that he made up his reasons for it.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Tue Apr 10, 2012 at 09:22 AM PDT.

Also republished by Your Government at Work and Daily Kos.

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