State, feds settle ARC bill

TRENTON – The governor’s office and the Department of Transportation today reported an agreement to settle the dispute over repayment for the canceled Access to the Region’s Core project.

The federal government had demanded repayment of $274 million for the scuttled Hudson River project, but the state always maintained it had the right to shut down the project because New Jersey would have been on the hook for cost overruns.

According to the settlement, the state will reimburse the federal government $95 million.

In a statement, Gov. Chris Christie said:

“I am pleased to announce that we have negotiated a good-faith settlement with the Federal Transportation Administration that puts the interests of New Jersey taxpayers first by substantially reducing the federal government’s original demand. The 5-year payment schedule on a $95 million settlement – which contains not one additional dollar of New Jersey taxpayer money – would be offset by more than $100 million in insurance premium refunds.

“This represents a fraction of the federal government’s initial claim and won’t cost New Jerseyans any additional money, which would otherwise go to infrastructure improvements. I want to thank U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and his staff for their good-faith efforts in working with us and putting the interest of New Jersey taxpayers ahead of politics. I also want to thank New Jersey Transit and Executive Director Jim Weinstein for their commitment to working toward this settlement.”

LaHood in a statement also thanked N.J. U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez for working toward the settlement.

Assembly Transportation Chairman John Wisniewski, (D-19), Sayreville, criticized that decision to cancel the project.

“While the governor may tout his settlement as a win for New Jersey, the fact is the cancellation of the commuter tunnel project cost New Jersey billions in federal funds and tens of thousands of jobs,” he said in a release.

“Every commuter stuck in the tunnel or delayed on their way to and from work knows how important this project was to our economy and quality of life. The governor can brag all he wants but there is no getting around the fact that New Jersey lost when the governor canceled the tunnel.”

State, feds settle ARC bill