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Chris Christie Kills Hudson Rail Project

Chris Christie, a rising star in Republican politics who some are touting as a 2012 presidential contender has bolstered his fiscal conservative street cred.

The largest public transit project in the nation, a commuter train tunnel under the Hudson River to Manhattan, was halted on Thursday by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey because, he said, the state could not afford its share of the project’s rising cost.

Mr. Christie’s decision stunned other government officials and advocates of public transportation because work on the tunnel was under way and $3 billion of federal financing had already been arranged — more money than had been committed to any other transit project in America.

The governor, a Republican, said he decided to withdraw his support for the project on Thursday after hearing from state transportation officials that the project would cost at least $2.5 billion more than its original price of $8.7 billion. He said that New Jersey would have been responsible for the overrun and that he could not put the taxpayers of the state “on what would be a never-ending hook.”

In scrapping the project, Mr. Christie is forfeiting the $3 billion from the federal government and jeopardizing as much from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The state may also have to repay the federal government for its share of the $600 million that has already been spent on the tunnel.

The tunnel, which would have stretched under the Hudson from North Bergen, N.J., to a new station deep below 34th Street in Manhattan, was intended to double the number of trains that could enter the city from the west each day. The project’s planners said the additional trains would alleviate congestion on local roads, reduce pollution, help the growth of the region’s economy and raise property values for suburban homeowners.

Not shockingly, this decision has its critics.

Commuter trains so packed that passengers eye overhead racks as a tempting refuge from the crush; more cars on the road, making for longer traffic delays and dirtier air; billions of dollars in home value lost to suburbs more accessible to Manhattan and therefore more marketable; continued crushing property tax burdens; fewer income tax dollars in state coffers and an all-around grim long-term economic outlook for the state.

It is a doomsday scenario painted by critics of Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to scrap construction of the trans-Hudson rail tunnel that had been planned by New Jersey Transit and approved under the former governor Christie unseated. Christie said he was acting on the recommendation of state transportation officials based on projections that the project, originally estimated to cost $8.7 billion, could top $14 billion, with New Jersey liable for the overruns in addition to the $2.7 billion the state had originally committed to the project under former Gov. Jon Corzine.

Proponents of the project said its benefits would have included a doubling of NJ Transit’s 46,000-passenger rail capacity into New York, to 90,000, along with a reduction in car traffic that would have resulted in cleaner air, along with immediate and long range employment and economic benefits.

[...]

But Neysa Pranger, a spokeswoman for the Regional Plan Association, said Christie’s decision “casts a dark shadow over the economic future of New Jersey.” Canceling the project will effectively cost New Jersey homeowners $18 billion dollars. That’s how much home values would have increased as a result of the tunnel’s construction, according to a study by the planning association, based on the impact of three previous rail projects. The study found that the value of homes within a half mile of a rail station would have increased by $29,000, while homes within two miles would have appreciate by $19,000.

“When you’re talking about property values, you’re talking about creating a larger tax base, and a larger tax base means you don’t have to raise property tax rates,” Pranger said. “I feel like everybody knows and understands the merits of the project. I think the governor even understands the merits. It’s just that he’s stuck on this one very popular message that he’s not going to spend any more money than he has.”

[...]

A very real economic consequence of the decision, said Pranger, is that New Jersey will now have to come up with $200 million in federal funds already spent to return to Washington.

Jeff Tittel, executive director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, called the project’s death sentence an “outrageous” decision that will hurt the environment, following estimates that the project would have taken 22,000 cars off the road, with an accompanying reduction in carbon emissions.

Paul Krugman declares this “arguably the worst policy decision ever made by the government of New Jersey — and that’s saying a lot.”

The story seems to be that Christie wants to divert the funds to road and bridge repair; but in so doing he would (a) lose huge matching funds from the Port Authority and the Feds (b) delay indefinitely a project NJ needs desperately ASAP. He could avoid these consequences by raising gasoline taxes. But no, taxes must never be raised, no matter what the tradeoffs.

And it’s a social bad too: now is very much the time when we should be ramping up infrastructure spending, not cutting it.

Over at LOOG, David Schaengold adds:

Currently the tunnels used for this purpose operate at 100% capacity many hours every day, with the trains themselves at 100% capacity. It is impossible for any more people to commute into Penn Station from New Jersey at normal hours than currently do. Since Amtrak uses the same tunnels, it is also impossible at peak hours for any more people to take the train from Philly to Boston, say, or Providence to Washington, than currently do. Given the total economic dependency of northern New Jersey on Manhattan and the immense economic importance of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor to the entire Eastern United States, you’d think doubling capacity at this bottleneck would be an obvious thing to do. Especially if the federal government has already committed to the project the largest single transit-related grant in its history.

In a follow-up, Krugman counters the obvious “rail should pay for itself” rejoinder:

[U]rban transportation is an area in which we know that market prices bear very little relationship to true social costs. Even if you ignore environmental impacts and the national security implications of oil imports, the fact is that driving in an urban area, especially in rush hour, imposes huge congestion externalities on other people. And I mean huge: Felix Salmon had a nice piece last year putting the external cost you impose on other people by driving into lower Manhattan at $160 a day. (I can’t find the reference, but Dave Barry once had an “ask Mr. Question Authority” about how long it takes to drive across Manhattan during rush hour. The answer was that nobody has ever succeeded in driving across Manhattan during rush hour.)

The project certainly seems like a no-brainer.  It’s a project vital for New Jersey’s economic growth and the Federal government and New York would pay for a large chunk of it.  But $2.5 billion is a lot of money and New Jersey is in crisis.   So, this is a case where long term good is trumped by short term realities.

Krugman is certainly right about the externalities issue.  People, like myself, who commute into big cities from the suburbs put a disproportionate strain on the infrastructure.  Most of our major cities — and especially those that long predate the automobile — are enormously congested.   Making rail more convenient is a no-brainer in those areas.  And it should be subsidized at least as much as driving.   Indeed, there’s a good argument for allowing people to ride for free simply to encourage them to get off the road.

Funding transportation infrastructure of this sort is enormously complicated.   The benefits to people living in Montgomery, Alabama or Missoula, Montana are not obvious.  So, why should they pay for this?   At the same time, the benefits certainly go beyond New York and New Jersey and yet people in the immediate surrounding states are essentially free riding on the project.

Another issue is that these projects take decades.   That means costs are impossible to project with any accuracy.  And politicians are forced to either keep throwing good money after bad or waste all of the sunk costs.  There’s got to be a better way.   But damned if I know what it is.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Peter says:

    If these projects didn’t take decades they might enjoy greater support. It’s hard to get excited about a rail project that your great-grandchildren might get to ride someday.

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  2. James Joyner says:

    Oh, no doubt. But putting a rail station under a river remains a difficult undertaking.

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  3. Dave says:

    $18,000,000,000 for 46,000 passengers is over $400,000 per passenger. That is, assuming they make the new overrun estimates, which they certainly won’t. For that kind of money you could build, for every commuter from anywhere in the world, an HD virtual environment that would remove the need to make the trip at all! Save time, frustration, on and on. Or, stop adding commercial space in the City. Put it in NJ, where the people are! You don’t need to have everybody in the same room anymore. City people need a new paradigm. The current one, like so many things today, is unsustainable.

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  4. Brummagem Joe says:

    In the realms of idiocy this ranks fairly high. Although I don’t live in NYC any longer the need for this link has been apparent for decades and the planning has been in the works probably for at least ten years. Then this buffoon comes along and cancels it essentially on a whim. We’ll see but I suspect this half assed decision will turn out to be Christie’s nemesis within the state. I noticed the AGC put out a statement condemning it and believe me that is not a Democratic leaning organization. Basically Krugman is right about the timing. Our infrastructure need enhancement, we have loads of spare capacity in construction and long term finance is never going to be cheaper; and yet bozos like Christie seem intent on ensuring that mass transit systems into the country’s major city remain at second world levels.

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  5. John Burgess says:

    Brummagem: Reading the article, it appears that Christie wants to spend the money on infrastructure projects that affect today, but not those that affect ten years from now. Current US infrastructure is failing now; it needs to be fixed now. The federal gov’t doesn’t budget anywhere near sufficient funds to repair and maintain all the mega-infrastructure projects it’s already built. Congressmen, after all, don’t get to put their names on repairs, only new stuff.

    I’d be happy to see a complete halt of ‘new stuff’ for ten years and all the money spent–and use made of all that spare capacity–to fix what’s breaking beneath our feet.

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  6. Joe,

    If you can find where exactly the State of New Jersey is going to get the money to fund this project, I’d love to hear it.

    Remember that unlike the irresponsible fools in Washington, states cannot run deficits.

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  7. JKB says:

    What part about broke, don’t people understand? When you don’t have the money, it doesn’t matter how good an argument can be made for some spending. You have to quit digging, in this case literally. Perhaps this cancellation will turn out to be the bad idea everyone laments but the facts are, something has to be cut to deal with the whole broke issue.

    We’re going to see more of this. Adults making hard decisions while those who benefit whine but we’re past the hand waving stage of the debt crisis.

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  8. Brummagem Joe says:

    Doug Mataconis says:
    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 09:01
    Joe,

    “If you can find where exactly the State of New Jersey is going to get the money to fund this project, I’d love to hear it.”

    Since this tunnel is going to take ten years to build any cost over runs are far in the future and will probably be even greater than forecast if experience is any guide. And if you don’t want to borrow some cheap money (and long term debt isn’t going to get much cheaper than it is now) and insist on wearing a hair shirt then make a modest rise in the gas tax as many have suggested. On another thread Doug you’re whining about anaemic job growth. Do you think Christie’s action is going to help or hinder job growth in the NJ area? Unfortunately, you and other Republicans don’t seem to understand the contradictions in your economic arguments. Don’t understand or don’t want to understand perhaps.

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  9. Brummagem Joe says:

    JKB says:
    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 09:08
    “What part about broke, don’t people understand?”

    We’re not broke otherwise the yields on 2 year T bills wouldn’t be at about .46% and on long dated bills at around 3.5% and the tax take in the country at it’s lowest level since the late forties.

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  10. Brummagem Joe says:

    John Burgess says:
    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 08:55
    “Brummagem: Reading the article, it appears that Christie wants to spend the money on infrastructure projects that affect today, but not those that affect ten years from now. ”

    Even if it’s true and not some cover story there are other ways to finance this. You don’t go and cancel a 10 billion dollar project that is majority financed out of state, has been years in gestation, will requiring paying back a couple hundred million, and is vital to the future economic development of the state. It’s a totally asinine decision by any standards and the kitchen table economics that are being used to justify it are puerile.

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  11. Jay Dubbs says:

    Doesn’t the NJ Legislature have a role is this, since they presumably have already appropriated the funds?

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  12. Do you think Christie’s action is going to help or hinder job growth in the NJ area?

    Spending billions of dollars you don’t have on a project that, at least in the short term, is only going to benefit politically connected construction workers unions and the companies that hire them isn’t going to help economic growth in New Jersey.

    And where the hell is New York in all this ? Why should New Jersey have to bear the burden of this project when most of it is going to benefit NYC and the State of New York more than it benefits New Jersey ?

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  13. Brummagem Joe says:

    Doug Mataconis says:
    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 09:44
    Joe:Do you think Christie’s action is going to help or hinder job growth in the NJ area?

    “Spending billions of dollars you don’t have on a project that, at least in the short term, is only going to benefit politically connected construction workers unions and the companies that hire them isn’t going to help economic growth in New Jersey.”

    Unfortunately you appear to be economically illiterate Doug. The tunnel is going to be built by thousands of manual and white collar workers (not unions) most of whom live in NJ. In addition there will thousands of downstream jobs created…all spending and contributing to the tax base of the state. Then there are benefits when the tunnel is built which you could write a book about. Sheesh

    “And where the hell is New York in all this ?”

    You seem to unfamiliar with the funding of the project. Two thirds of it is coming from out of state either from the Federal govt or the NY port authority.

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  14. Brummagem Joe says:

    Jay Dubbs says:
    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 09:38

    I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this by a long way. I suspect Mr Christie may be getting calls from some of his Republican donors as we speak.

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  15. Unfortunately you appear to be economically illiterate Doug. The tunnel is going to be built by thousands of manual and white collar workers (not unions) most of whom live in NJ. In addition there will thousands of downstream jobs created…all spending and contributing to the tax base of the state. Then there are benefits when the tunnel is built which you could write a book about. Sheesh

    An analysis which concentrates solely on the temporary benefits of government spending, and not the fact that the resources used by that spending could have been utilized in other ways in the private economy. Government does not create resources, it merely shifts them from the productive class to the politically favored class.

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  16. James Joyner says:

    @Doug

    And where the hell is New York in all this ? Why should New Jersey have to bear the burden of this project when most of it is going to benefit NYC and the State of New York more than it benefits New Jersey ?

    As Joe has already noted, this is basically 1/3 each NY, NJ, Feds.

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  17. Jay Dubbs says:

    This seems like typical Christie . . . talk big and don’t worry about the consequences. I know this guy is a rock star among the GOP, but he really doesn’t seem to thing more than about 10 minutes ahead.

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  18. Jay Dubbs says:

    (that would be think, not thing)

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  19. Brummagem Joe says:

    Doug Mataconis says:
    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 10:15

    “An analysis which concentrates solely on the temporary benefits of government spending, and not the fact that the resources used by that spending could have been utilized in other ways in the private economy. ”

    Doug there will be economic benefits from this tunnel for generations… what are you talking about….and the problem at the moment is the private economy in NJ and elsewhere (like all those corrupt construction companies, equipment dealers, truckers, quarries, and sandwich stands) has loads of spare capacity. Spending on the tunnel is going into the private economy for godsake…I’m going to break off now and talk to an old acquaintance of mine who is a NJ equipment dealer, as Republican as they come btw, and learn how excited he is about the good news.

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  20. bandit says:

    How are they going to steal concrete for their swimming pools now?

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  21. DC Loser says:

    And where the hell is New York in all this ? Why should New Jersey have to bear the burden of this project when most of it is going to benefit NYC and the State of New York more than it benefits New Jersey ?

    How many NYers commute to NJ for jobs? How many NJ residents come into NYC each day to work? Hey, if NJ doesn’t want all those NYC jobs I’m sure plenty of NYC residents can replace them.

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  22. Steve Plunk says:

    A University of Texas study looked at why highway projects consistently ran over budget. The conclusion was people lied. They lie about costs in order to garner initial support and avoid serious consequence for their lies. The way to stop that is to do what Christie has done, kill the project.

    The cost benefit ratio for these projects are also overstated. Those desperately needed infrastructure projects are often little more than make work projects for public employees and union members.

    What many are missing is that these funds could be used for something else that might bolster economic development. Something that doesn’t run over budget and rely on my tax dollars from Oregon to complete. The old model of public works projects from bridges to schools is outdated and inefficient. It needs to change.

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  23. Herb says:

    “Those desperately needed infrastructure projects are often little more than make work projects for public employees and union members.”

    Keep telling yourself that, Steve. I don’t know about you, but every day I drive on “make work projects” that my grandparents approved decades ago. They’re called interstate highways.

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  24. Jay Dubbs says:

    Steve,

    By your logic, I assume that you would not raise a peep (and in fact vocally defend) Obama if he announced a cancellation of all military spending tomorrow?

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  25. DC Loser says:

    I guess all those Jerseyites can just swim across the Hudson to get to work.

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  26. [...] Garden State is getting some flak from an unlikely source: conservatives and libertarians.  Both James Joyner and Megan McArdle think that the Republican governor’s nod to fiscal conservatism is in the [...]

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  27. wr says:

    And the Republicans take one more giant step towards destroying the United States of America, We used to be a country of dreamers and doers. We build the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam. We put men on the moon.

    But the mantra of the tea partiers is now always the same: “It’ will cost money. I don’t want to pay taxes. Nobody matters but me!”

    Just look at the hideous rationalizations for supporting Christie’s moronic decisions right here. Oh, the money’s being wasted because it will go to evil union workers — as if somehow Americans who exercise their right to collective bargaining don’t need real jobs. It’s better to fix potholes — as if the Federal government will chip in three billion dollars to fix potholes. It might cost some money — well, yeah, it’s going to. This is a country of three hundred million people and growing. It costs money to build and maintain the infrastructure necessary to support it. And we all benefit as a nation from the economic growth that follows.

    But the Plunks of the world can’t stand the idea that they might have to pay a nickel to keep this country great. They’d rather see us become a third world hellhole, as long as they don’t have to contribute anything.

    Best joke of all — these are the ones who insist on calling themselves “patriots.”

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  28. DC Loser says:

    This is what happens when you live and die by political orthodoxy, just like the Soviet ideologists.

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  29. Brummagem Joe says:

    Steve Plunk says:
    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 11:40
    “A University of Texas study looked at why highway projects consistently ran over budget. The conclusion was people lied.”

    Duh. Of course they lie sometimes deliberately and sometimes because they just don’t understand the size of the undertaking. They lied about the cost of the trans continental railways, they lied about the cost of the Brooklyn bridge. Bush lied about the cost of Iraq war. Is this some great revelation. America was built on a mountain of lies. I’ll bet they’re underestimating the size of the over runs at 2.5 billion but that isn’t a reason why we shouldn’t do it.

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  30. Brummagem Joe says:

    And can we please get one thing straight. The country is NOT BROKE. Interest on our long term debt which is set by the dreaded bond vigilantes is well under 4% while it’s at around 12% for Greece… which is broke. Understand the difference? And tax receipts are well below potential with even a modest shift in bands.

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  31. Brummagem Joe says:

    “The old model of public works projects from bridges to schools is outdated and inefficient. It needs to change.”

    And what would you suggest Steve?

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  32. Steve Plunk says:

    Herb, Jay, DC, You are all using reducing the argument to the absurd level. Not all projects are boondoggles but many are and things have certainly changed form our grandparent’s day when projects were built better and cheaper. The system has become corrupt from top to bottom. No one is suggesting doing away with all public works projects but a close examination is long overdue. Ignoring the problem seems to be the course of action you all are advocating. That’s why we are broke.

    wr, I have paid my taxes over the years and educated myself in regards to public works projects. The last major project in my town started at $30 million and ended up costing over $70 million. My county received a grant to widen a road for a bike lane (I’m a long time cyclist) but the location was miles from any urban area and did not connect to any other bike lane or path. Now if we would have abandoned either of these projects we would not have become a third world hellhole. When money is tight it makes sense to give up the things with marginal returns. Now multiply these problems as they take place across the country and you see why this is a real problem. Now is that really true I don’t want to pay a nickel to keep this country great or did you mean to say by saving billions of wasted dollars I want to keep this country great?

    The idea that all public works projects are necessary, increase productivity, and replace “crumbling” infrastructure is just false. Some projects are good and some are bad but the present method for doling out the cash causes some jurisdictions to build just for the sake of not missing the gravy train. Again, that’s why we are broke.

    But if you guys want to call me cheap (I am) and question my patriotism (I’m patriotic) go ahead. All you’re doing is ignoring the reality of what’s been happening for the last 50 years and dooming future generations to a lower standard of living.

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  33. Juneau says:

    @ herb

    Keep telling yourself that, Steve. I don’t know about you, but every day I drive on “make work projects” that my grandparents approved decades ago. They’re called interstate highways.

    No, your grandparents didn’t approve them. Eisenhower did, as part of the “defense” requirement for the country. The reason the interstates were built was to provide a means to quickly move men and material across the country in the event the cold war went hot.

    The interstates were not created for enjoyment and pleasure, nor were they created primarily for commerce. It had nothing to do with “national infrastructure projects.”

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  34. Steve Plunk says:

    Brummagem,

    With schools I would suggest design and build competitions. Architects and contractors would submit complete design and build packages e before bond election to allow voters to see what they get for their money. In my state you can’t even use designs that have already been built, you have to hire architects to design from scratch and they charge about 15% of total cost. With minimal expense you could modify plans from previous successful builds.

    With highway projects we have a situation where nearly every project goes over budget. These are budgets put together by professionals who then sell the ideas to the public for support. When it costs more than we were told we get a simple ‘oh well’ and pony up additional tax dollars. I would recommend complete design/build competitions with hard caps on cost. As it is now designer, engineers, and contractors all blame the other for overruns. Easy outs without consequences for malfeasance.

    I’m sure there are other great ideas out there but just because you don’t have solution yet doesn’t mean you don’t already have a problem. We have a problem when it comes to constructing public infrastructure.

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  35. Jay Dubbs says:

    Steve,

    My point was there is nothing in your post that could not apply also to defense spending, especially on big projects.

    As you point out, the [defense] contractors lie about the costs. Should we cancel those programs or not?

    It’s not a question of patriotism (I for one don’t question yours or anyone elses), but a question of thinking ahead and making the necessary investments for the future. Short term pain for long term gain.

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  36. matt says:

    Wasn’t Steve the one that claimed a while back that we spend too much money over engineering road overpasses and such? Ugh always the same…

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  37. Juneau says:

    @ brummagen

    And can we please get one thing straight. The country is NOT BROKE.

    Oh, I see. So if my credit cards are maxed out, I have no money in the bank, my house has two mortgages and my payments are going only to the interest and barely even scratching the principal, and I have so much debt that even after I die my grandchildren will be paying on MY obligations…I’m not broke?

    Does that mean I’m only broke if I can no longer borrow money to keep my lifestyle at the same level and keep staving off creditors? Even if I could print money to fulfill my obligations, I am fighting my own dollars because the more I print, theless value each dollar has.

    No… we’re not broke at all. We’re just majority-owned by our biggest political and economic rival(China). Kind of like saying that as long as the loan shark around the corner keeps providing money, I can keep going the way I have. I just won’t think about the day someone comes knocking on the door to collect. The responsible approach is to delay it until we’re gone (out of office). Let’s let our kids deal with it instead.

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  38. Brummagem Joe says:

    Juneau says:
    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 14:15

    “Oh, I see. So if my credit cards are maxed out,”

    Can we something else straight. You are NOT the country. Given the set of circumstances you outline(which were largely created by the guy you voted for) no one is going to provide you with unlimited credit at 3.6%! I know it’s a waste of time trying to explain any of this to you but it’s the optimist in me I suppose. I think man is basically improvable. Even you.

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  39. Brummagem Joe says:

    Steve Plunk says:
    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 14:02

    ” I would recommend complete design/build competitions with hard caps on cost. As it is now designer, engineers, and contractors all blame the other for overruns. Easy outs without consequences for malfeasance.”

    Regardless of how many competitions you run, none of this changes the fact these projects have to be paid for. So in the middle of the big dig they find they’ve underestimated by 100%. We just leave the holes in the ground and shoot the engineers and designers to encourage the others. You’d propose the same approach for the Iraq war that was allegedly going to cost around 75 billion and is currently at roughly ten times that?

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  40. Brummagem Joe says:

    Juneau says:
    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 14:01

    “The interstates were not created for enjoyment and pleasure, nor were they created primarily for commerce. It had nothing to do with “national infrastructure projects.”

    Do these guys live on this planet?

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  41. Brummagem Joe says:

    “I think man is basically improvable. Even you.”

    I’m going to have to rethink this in the case of Juneau.

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  42. DC Loser says:

    Oh, we bad! Let’s just return the interstates to their original intent and just have tanks go up and down them. And I guess NJ doesn’t need all that tax revenue from those people making 6 or 7 figure jobs on Wall Street. Even hard core Libertarians like Megan McArdle think this is a stupid decision. My bet is that the tunnel will be funded and built. Too much is riding on this tunnel for NJ’s economy not to be built.

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  43. Juneau says:

    @ Brummagen and Loser

    OK Einsteins – the point is that the interstates were not a result of the farsighted willingness of your grandparents to go into debt for the sake of having some make-work project. The idea of “returning them to their original intent” is, like usual – a complete diversion of the point and issue.

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  44. Juneau says:

    And just for you Brummagen -since you appear to be incapable of doing your own research:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_Highway_System

    “The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, commonly called the Interstate Highway System, Interstate Freeway System (or simply the Interstate), ….”

    Try educating yourself before you Prog-vomit over someone’s post….

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  45. Juneau says:

    @ DC Loser

    And I guess NJ doesn’t need all that tax revenue from those people making 6 or 7 figure jobs on Wall Street.

    Typical Prog logic, drawn from favorite make-believe worlds and endorsed by such experts as Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones; “Build it and they will come.”

    Transcendant wisdom in a time of lay-offs and down-sizing. You folks just can’t seem to understand that there is a time for everything, and the time is not now. And when it comes to spending, you can never wrap your lips around the word “No.”

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  46. george says:

    “Regardless of how many competitions you run, none of this changes the fact these projects have to be paid for. So in the middle of the big dig they find they’ve underestimated by 100%. We just leave the holes in the ground and shoot the engineers and designers to encourage the others. You’d propose the same approach for the Iraq war that was allegedly going to cost around 75 billion and is currently at roughly ten times that?”

    Actually it’d be great if wars were run that way … as soon as the allocated money dries up you have to pack up your gear and go back home.

    If the precedent were set that a company is responsible for finishing a project once its bid has been accepted, the bidding would soon become much more realistic (ie they’d take into account future cost escalations and so forth). Much more useful, both for determining true costs and choosing the best contractor.

    This is especially true for military contractors, but also true for projects like tunnels under rivers. Cost ‘overruns’ not only aren’t unexpected, but in most cases they are predicted fairly accurately. However the insane system of bidding has everyone doing this dance of nonsense bids which are understood to have future ‘overruns’, and are just another way of allowing corruption into giving money to the friends of whoever happens to be in power.

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  47. Jay Dubbs says:

    Oops, looks like Christie has started reversing himself.

    Speak first, and think later. Modus Operandi for the GOP rock star.

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  48. Brummagem Joe says:

    Juneau says:
    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 15:21
    “And just for you Brummagen -since you appear to be incapable of doing your own research:”

    Juneau: I know you come from another planet apparently but it doesn’t matter for what primary purpose they were built… the interstate highway system was an “infrastructure project” just as air raid shelters were or military airfields…DUH

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  49. Brummagem Joe says:

    Juneau says:
    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 15:21
    “And just for you Brummagen -since you appear to be incapable of doing your own research:”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_Highway_System

    And btw Juneau it might be useful to you if you actually read your own links…viz:

    The Interstate Highway System was authorized by the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956[6] – popularly known as the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956 – on June 29. It had been lobbied for by major U.S. automobile manufacturers and championed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was influenced by his experiences as a young Army officer crossing the country in the 1919 Army Convoy on the Lincoln Highway, the first road across America.

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  50. Brummagem Joe says:

    Juneau says:
    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 15:21

    And just to help you out even further Juneau, here’s prog vomit definition of infrastructure

    in·fra·struc·ture (nfr-strkchr)
    n.
    1. An underlying base or foundation especially for an organization or system.
    2. The basic facilities, services, and installations needed for the functioning of a community or society, such as transportation and communications systems, water and power lines, and public institutions including schools, post offices, and prisons.

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  51. Brummagem Joe says:

    Brummagem Joe says:
    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 10:11
    “I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this by a long way. I suspect Mr Christie may be getting calls from some of his Republican donors as we speak.”

    Looks like I wasn’t far wrong

    http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/traffic/2010/10/nj_governor_backtracks_on_tunn.html

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  52. Herb says:

    Juneau, Yes, we all know that the interstates are defensive structures. Next you’ll tell me that since Dwight Eisenhower was partly inspired by the Autobahn he saw in Germany, you’re going to tell me that they’re fascist too.

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  53. Juneau: says:

    @ Brummagen

    Thank you for proving my point, despite your attempts to twist the facts. Please note your own reference; The “Defense Highway Act.” Get it? DEFENSE? Not, “Highway Improvement Act” , not “Infrastructure Improvement Act” , not “Enhanced Commerce Act” ….. Defense.

    Thank you for your time, just leave a tip on the table when you leave…

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  54. Juneau: says:

    @ Herb

    Juneau, Yes, we all know that the interstates are defensive structures. Next you’ll tell me that since Dwight Eisenhower was partly inspired by the Autobahn he saw in Germany, you’re going to tell me that they’re fascist too.

    You need to pay attention to what’s going on … this thread began when someone made the statement that our interstates are an example of “make-work” projects that voters of yesteryear had no problem financing. My point made above is that “the interstates were not a result of the farsighted willingness of your grandparents to go into debt for the sake of having some make-work project.” They were the result of Eisenhower recognizing the potential need for rapid troop and material transport across the nation.

    What ensued then was the typical premature ejaculation of name calling and derision that passes for a rebuttal from the resident Progs. I have simply been providing facts and historical references which support my point.. Along with having a bit of sport with a few who missed their medication schedule.

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  55. Brummagem Joe says:

    Juneau: says:
    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 19:02

    ‘Thank you for proving my point”

    I knew you’d try to distort reality(because that’s what folks like you do) which is why as I demonstrated with the definition of infrastructure even with your loony tunes version of reality, whatever their purpose, the interstates WERE infrastructure. However, I’m going to pass on your denial of the definition of infrastructure.

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  56. Brummagem Joe says:

    Juneau: says:
    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 19:02

    BTW Juneau as the Brits would say, you are a considerable prat. Sorry to break my usual custom but it seemed appropriate in the circumstances.

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  57. Herb says:

    @Juneau: “You need to pay attention to what’s going on”

    Um…yeah. Just to recap: I’m the one who brought up the interstate in response to Steve Plunk’s “desperately needed infrastructure projects are often little more than make work projects for public employees and union members” nonsense. No, actually many times it’s just a desperately needed infrastructure project.

    Your stuff about Eisenhower, while demonstrating your considerable Wikipedia skills, is a bit of non sequitur. It’s not even really accurate and I’m not sure what point you’re making. Are you saying that forward-looking infrastructure projects are only worth it if they serve some kind of national defense purpose? What ARE you saying?

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  58. Juneau says:

    *sigh* OK Brummagen. Let me spell it out for you using very short simple words so you can understand. No one said that the interstate wasn’t infrastructure. Nobody. That was never contested and it has nothing to do with the point at hand. You cannot find anywhere above where I made any statement to that effect. None.

    The poverty of your position is starkly demostrated by your attempt to make the thread abut something it is not.. Declare victory over….nothing, and then move on.

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  59. Juneau says:

    @ Herb

    What ARE you saying?

    First of all, my point about Eisenhower IS completely accurate and is central to the discussion at hand – expensive projects and the justificaton for spending money on them. The interstate system was not a “make-work” project voted upon by our grandparents with some far-sighted goal in mind. And therefore the interstate system is inherently completely different from the tunnel project in Jersey. In other words, exhorbitant costs – which needed to be financed – were accepted as being necessary because of the national defense considerations which were central to the purpose of creating a national highway system.

    The NJ tunnel is not central to the potential survival of NJ. It is nowhere comparable to the interstate system, and in times of economic distress, the tunnel certainly does not carry with it the same urgency and strategic benefit that creating the interstate did.

    Christie is right to question, and perhaps ultimately still cancel, the expenditures in this tough economy.

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  60. wr says:

    Plunk – I don’t really care about a bike path in Hog Walla, or wherever you live. The fact that your local pols tried to spend a lot of money for bike lanes — if that, indeed, has any relation to the truth — has abolutely nothing to do with the fact that New York and New Jersey need this rail tunnel.

    The fact that you conflate the two simply proves that you are driven by ideology — government bad, Hulk smash! — and have no idea what the real world needs.

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  61. anjin-san says:

    > Those desperately needed infrastructure projects are often little more than make work projects

    For sure. Take the SF Bay Bridge, where I live. Had a near catastrophic failure in 1989. The new span will be ready in 2013. Our luck only has to hold out for a few more years. We should totally rely on luck when it comes to trivial things like infrastructure. Only 250K people cross that bridge a day, no biggie…

    Or we can just wait, and wait. Like we have done with the Caldecott Tunnel in the Bay Area. Who cares if it adds and extra 20 minutes to everyones commute each way, every day? Air pollution? A liberal lie. Wasted gas? Hey, Saudi Arabia needs our money. Wasted time? Don’t we all have too much? Lets just put flag stickers in our cars so we can be reminded of our greatness while we sit in traffic. But that communist bastard Obama actually put up some funding, so now we are fixing problem. The man should be impeached. The guys who dig tunnels are just lazy union jerks anyway, right?

    We can also trust corporations to do the right thing. Like PG&E has done with gas pipelines in California. Just ask the folks in San Burno, they will tell you.

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  62. anjin-san says:

    > because of the national defense considerations which were central to the purpose of creating a national highway system.

    Yes, we needed to destroy public transportation in this country so that Standard Oil and GM could increase profits. Vital to national defense.

    Don’t be a rube. The “national defense” angle made it much easier to get funding. The national security threat we were facing at the time was Soviet bombers and rockets. Not sure how driving down the interstate was going to give us all that much help with that.

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  63. anjin-san says:

    > and not the fact that the resources used by that spending could have been utilized in other ways in the private economy.

    Ah yes. All we have to do is look at the vast piles of cash corporations are sitting on for proof of this. They are being utilized making CEOs feel safer.

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  64. Brummagem Joe says:

    Juneau says:
    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 22:52
    *sigh* OK Brummagen. Let me spell it out for you using very short simple words so you can understand. No one said that the interstate wasn’t infrastructure. Nobody.

    This wasn’t you then? Someone is impersonating you? I should take it up with Jim.

    Juneau says:
    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 14:01
    “The interstates were not created for enjoyment and pleasure, nor were they created primarily for commerce. It had nothing to do with “national infrastructure projects.”

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  65. Brummagem Joe says:

    Juneau says:
    Friday, October 8, 2010 at 22:52

    Btw Juneau if you want to add porky telling to fatuousness do try and be a bit more skilful about it. My six year old grandson would be able to trip you up. That’s my last bit of advice to you.

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  66. DC Loser says:

    It is quite quaint to read stuff from Steve Plunk. Reminds me of all those editorials in Pravda or the Daily Worker.

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  67. anjin-san says:

    Nothing more from Juneau. Guess he bravely ran away…

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