Chris Christie is flip flopping left and right this week. Not only is he seemingly reconsidering his definitive statements against running for President but today he also has capitulated to the US Department of Transportation. Though earlier this year he was adamant that New Jersey would not be paying back the federal government any of the funds it had taken for the Trans-Hudson ARC tunnel he nixed (citing its high cost), today he agreed to pay back $95 million of the $271 million in federal dollars spent by the state on the project (in addition to agreeing to spending some of the funds it received on USDOT-approved projects).
Here's how the USDOT describes the settlement:
The $95 million settlement will permit DOT to recover all of the $51 million in New Starts money provided to New Jersey for the ARC Project, so that those funds can be made available to other communities for public transit projects. This amount also recovers approximately 50 percent of the funds provided to New Jersey under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and this money will be returned to the United States Treasury. In addition to the cash payment amount, New Jersey will be required under the terms of the settlement agreement to spend more than $128 million in CMAQ program funds on transit-related projects that have been reviewed and approved by DOT.
So in the end it looks like New Jersey is going to get to walk away with about $48 million in federal funds from the project. Of course the really sad part about all of this is that the settlement comes just as commuters are finding out just how much we desperately need a new rail link between our two states. Need we remind you about the stuck trains and signal problems that have been plaguing NJTranist and Amtrak's current tunnel? Could we maybe get that other tunnel now? Or that 7 extension into Jersey?