Gov. Chris Christie has approved the retention of Washington D.C.-based law firm Patton Boggs by N.J. Transit as the state seeks to fend off a federal demand for repayment of ARC Tunnel funds.
The Federal Transportation Administration earlier this week sent a bill to the state demanding repayment of $271 million of federal money already spent on the tunnel, which was scuttled by Christie in October.
Christie has maintained that the cancellation of the tunnel was justified in order to protect taxpayers from a potential $5 billion in cost overruns. Supporters of the tunnel said the move was shortsighted on the governor’s part as the tunnel would have decreased commuting times into New York City.
“It’s not surprising that the same federal transit agency that had no clear way to pay for cost overruns of a project already hurt by poor planning and inequitable cost sharing is relying on bureaucratic power plays to wring even more money from New Jerseyans,” Christie said. “New Jersey and its taxpayers should not be responsible for these costs, which is why our Administration is making every effort to fight the FTA’s unreasonable demands. I simply cannot allow our state to be taken advantage of any further over this highly flawed project.”
The administration will seek to fight the demand on the grounds that the FTA has inconsistently sought repayment of funding for projects that have been canceled.
According to a release from the administration, “the Rochester Genesee Regional Transportation Authority (RGRTA) was managing a major transit construction project that was stopped at the last minute and the FTA did not demand repayment of tens of millions of dollars spent.”