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Lautenberg launches investigation on ARC project cancellation


Last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced he officially terminated New Jersey Transit’s Access to the Region’s Core project, which called for building twin tunnels under the Hudson River to expand commuter-rail capacity into Manhattan. The project cost, which originally was estimated at $8.7 billion, had escalated by several billion dollars, according to federal projections.

Now, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) has launched an investigation into the cancellation. He seeks to “determine the circumstances, actions and motivations that led to the largest loss of federal transportation resources in state history,” according to a prepared statement issued on Friday. Lautenberg plans to issue a preliminary report by 2010’s end and a final report within six months that will review all details that led to the project’s termination and include recommendations to prevent a loss of federal revenue in the future.

“The cancellation of the ARC tunnel project will have repercussions for our state for decades and could harm the ability of New Jersey to secure transportation resources in the future,” Lautenberg said. “It is critical that the public know what happened and how we can prevent this from happening in the future.”

One of the many things under investigation: the role of New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner James Simpson in the ARC project. He worked directly on the project for most of the year. Simpson also oversaw ARC work as head of the Federal Transit Administration under President George W. Bush. The NJ Uniform Ethics Code prohibits a state official from having any involvement in a project if that person worked on the same project for any other government or private entity, according to Lautenberg.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/1/2010