Transportation Construction Gridlock Threatened

NJ Governor Chris Christie’s 30-day moratorium on the ARC trans-Hudson rail tunnel has led to a “high-stakes game of political chicken”, which now threatens to stop about 100 road and rail construction projects around the state, according to a front-page article in the Star-Ledger on Saturday, October 2.  The Governor halted the ARC project pending a review of New Jersey’s ability to pay for it; legislature Democrats, saying that the Administration continues to fail to provide details of any plan to replenish the nearly-broke Transportation Trust Fund, last week stalled a $1.25-billion bond issue needed to keep the projects going.  The Governor then threatened to halt the projects, effective Monday, October 4.
One solution to the trust fund problem would be an increased gas tax, but the Governor is adamantly opposed to it.  The article, by Mike Frassinelli and Lisa Fleisher, quotes NJ Transit executive director Jim Weinstein as saying that there have been discussions about diverting the ARC money to shore up the Trust Fund.  Labor unions reacted strongly to the Governor’s announced project freeze, saying that the construction workers would be immediately out of work in a time when construction industry joblessness is at an all-time high.  Democrats scheduled an emergency meeting for 10 a.m. Monday to reconsider the bond issue.