Posted by | October 8, 2010 15:44 | Filed under: Top Stories

By Yashwanth Manjunath

If any state in the country is the perfect example of big government gone wrong, it is New Jersey. New Jersey has some of the highest taxes in the country, yet also has one of the highest budget deficits. All of this has come largely under the leadership of the corrupt Democratic machine, which has ran the state into the ground and created massive, wasteful, inefficient bureaucracies. The state desperately needed an intelligent and courageous budget slasher who would trim the fat off of its bloated bureaucratic mess. This is why I was proud to support Governor Chris Christie in 2009 and cheered when he was elected. Now all I can do is groan in frustration and embarrassment.

Yesterday Christie destroyed the largest mass transit project in the country. The project in question is a desperately needed commuter train tunnel under the Hudson River to Manhattan. Right now there is only one  rail link from New Jersey to midtown Manhattan, and it is a 2-track tunnel built 100 years ago and already at capacity. The federal government had already committed $3 billion to the project and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was offering another $3 billion, while New Jersey would have been responsible for the remaining $2.7 billion. Christie supported the project during his campaign, but has now flip-flopped after some new information about the price.

Apparently state transportation officials told Christie that the tunnel will cost at least $2.5 billion more than its original $8.7 billion price tag. Christie told reporters that he could not put the taxpayers of the state “on what would be a never-ending hook.” While Gov. Christie’s commitment to fiscal responsibility is admirable, his rashness and short-sightedness are incomprehensible. In one day Christie destroyed a project 20 years in the making because of his failure to understand that costs often rise unexpectedly for projects of this size. In the short-term, Christie has cost the state of New Jersey as much as half of the $600 million already spent on the project, which needs to be paid back to the federal government for the abrupt cancellation of the project. But the long-term damage will be much more severe.

At almost 1,200 people per square mile, New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country. That coupled with the significant number of residents who work in New York City makes additional public transportation essential for the creation of new jobs. The tunnel would have doubled the number of trains that could enter the city from the west each day, on top of alleviating traffic, reducing pollution, helping the state economy, and helping raise property values. Christie’s decision cost the New York/New Jersey area 6,000 construction jobs directly related to the construction of this tunnel, on top of the 40,000 potential jobs that would have been created in New Jersey with increased access to Manhattan.

When asked to comment, New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg told the press, “Killing the ARC tunnel will go down as one of the biggest public policy blunders in New Jersey’s history. Without increased transportation options into Manhattan, New Jersey’s economy will eventually be crippled.”

For once I agree with him.

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