After scrapping the plan for the Trans-Hudson ARC tunnel (because it was too expensive), Governor Chris Christie said in no way is New Jersey paying back the $271 million owed to the federal government. But yesterday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood rejected the state's arguments and ordered them to repay the debt, on which interest is already growing. LaHood said he traveled to New Jersey to salvage the project after Christie cancelled it, and wrote, "The purpose of my efforts was to avoid the very circumstance in which we now find ourselves: No jobs, no congestion relief and an enduring debt whereby New Jersey must return $271 million to the nation's taxpayers."
It seems like Christie is still fighting the payments; spokesman Kevin Roberts said, "We disagree with the FTA's conclusion and its continued efforts to bill New Jersey taxpayers for completed work that will be of substantial value to future transportation projects not just in New Jersey, but in the Northeast corridor." He also claimed that the state was unable to continue with the ARC for "reasons beyond the state’s control."
LaHood said the DOT is not above “withholding future state funding from a wide variety of sources" if Jersey doesn't pay up, but that "in consideration of the current economic challenges burdening New Jersey and all other states, I am not pursuing these collection methods at this time in the hope that we and the state of New Jersey can develop a workable payment schedule." Like by next Christmas eve?