By Jill Colvin
MANHATTAN — A massive transportation project that would have doubled the number of commuters traveling to Penn Station from New Jersey is now dead on arrival.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced Thursday that he has pulled the plug on Access to the Region's Core (ARC), the multi-billion-dollar project that would have built two new commuters tunnels under the Hudson River connecting to an expanded Penn Station.
Citing ballooning costs, Christie said the state cannot afford to proceed at this time.
"I have made a pledge to the people of New Jersey that on my watch I will not allow taxpayers to fund projects that run over budget with no clear way of how these costs will be paid for," Christie said in a statement.
"The ARC project costs far more than New Jersey taxpayers can afford and the only prudent move is to end this project," he said.
Questions about the fate of ARC began to swirl last month when Christie put the project on hold after officials warned its could cost as much as a billion dollars more than its $8.7 billion budget.
Calculations by the Federal Transit Administration and the New Jersey Transit revealed the the project's final cost would have topped $11 billion — possibly hitting $14 billion, Christie revealed.
The state would have had to cover the added cost, he said.
Billions in federal funding have already been committed to the project and about $478 million has already been spent, according to a memorandum written by New Jersey Transit officials Thursday.
The federal funds will no longer be committed to the state, Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts said.
Governor David Paterson said he was "disappointed" by the news.
"Governor Christie's decision to stop the ARC Tunnel is a reminder that we face significant challenges in building transportation infrastructure," he said in a statement.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the tunnel, which was intended to double commuter capacity between New Jersey and Midtown, would have been a boon to the city, bringing in dollars and creating jobs.
Christie has asked transit officials to consider alternative plans for increasing capacity along the busy route.