Holy F-ARC: Train Tunnel Back from the Dead–But Jersey Still Owes Feds $271 M.

Maybe it’s not all bad news for transit riders after all. Or at least less-bad news.

There are rumors swirling that Amtrak may take over the failed ARC Tunnel that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie killed off last month. The national rail line wants to use the additional tracks to serve a burgeoning high-speed rail network. It is unclear whether this would also serve the ARC’s original purpose of relieving congestion from New Jersey, though that seems possible if enough Amtrak traffic shifted from “regular” to high-speed. Still, transit officials insisted these talks were “more exploratory than preliminary.”

This would presumably be part of the New York high-speed rail network that was announced only a day after Christie officially killed the project. A high-speed slap in the face!

The more immediate insult: the Federal Transportation Administration is asking for $271 million, plus interest, from New Jersey to cover the cost of ARC construction thus far. The Christie administration has promised to challenge the request, but assuming it does go through, here’s hoping they don’t just pull an Albany and raise NJ Transit fares to cover the costs.

mchaban [at] observer.com | @mc_nyo