Whenever the consultants start whispering in a politician's ear that they, too, could run for president, you start seeing "principled" public stands like this. I'm convinced that Christie's going to run. He's certainly shameless enough to be the Republican nominee, because even politicians understand that you can't build needed infrastructure on a pay-as-you-go basis. It's an investment, and he knows it. The highways in northern New Jersey are already so jammed, they should be doing whatever they can to encourage rail travel.
To put this in perspective: He simply doesn't want to be tagged as the person who raised NJ gas taxes, which are so low, I can save $.30 a gallon by driving across the bridge:
(CNN) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie killed plans for a new train tunnel to connect his state with New York's Manhattan island Thursday, saying billions of dollars in possible cost overruns made the project "completely unthinkable."
The $8.7 billion tunnel beneath the Hudson River was the largest public works project in the United States, but Christie said it was likely to cost up to $5 billion more than estimated. In a statement announcing his plan to withdraw from the project, he said the tunnel "costs far more than New Jersey taxpayers can afford, and the only prudent move is to end this project."
"I have made a pledge to the people of New Jersey that on my watch I will not allow taxpayers to fund projects that run over budget with no clear way of how these costs will be paid for," said Christie, a Republican elected in 2009.
"Considering the unprecedented fiscal and economic climate our state is facing, it is completely unthinkable to borrow more money and leave taxpayers responsible for billions in cost overruns."
The tunnel, dubbed the Access to the Region's Core project, was aimed at doubling the number of commuter trains between New York and New Jersey and increasing the number of Amtrak trains serving the Northeast Corridor. It would have included an expansion of New York's Penn Station, created 6,000 jobs and taken 22,000 cars off the road, according to New Jersey Transit and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Whenever I take the train to NYC, it's a total crap shoot because the trains get so backed up between Newark and Penn Station, so I'm really ticked about this. So is Paul Krugman:
Many reports that Chris Christie is about to scuttle the second rail tunnel under the Hudson. If so, it’s arguably the worst policy decision ever made by the government of New Jersey — and that’s saying a lot.
The story seems to be that Christie wants to divert the funds to road and bridge repair; but in so doing he would (a) lose huge matching funds from the Port Authority and the Feds (b) delay indefinitely a project NJ needs desperately ASAP. He could avoid these consequences by raising gasoline taxes. But no, taxes must never be raised, no matter what the tradeoffs.
And it’s a social bad too: now is very much the time when we should be ramping up infrastructure spending, not cutting it.
And yes, if anyone should mention it, I am a resident of New Jersey who often visits Manhattan, and therefore has a personal stake in this project. You got a problem with that?