Christie defends killing tunnel project he says 'stunk'

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker left speaks as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie listens during a news conference at Newark Penn Station Wednesday

Christie defends killing tunnel project he says 'stunk'

On Wednesday Christie defended his decision to discontinue a project to build a rail tunnel connecting New Jersey and NY.

Even though federally-financed Amtrak has taken responsibility for two recent train derailments and an investigation into last week's power outage on an NJ Transit train is ongoing, it has been Gov. Chris Christie who has come under scrutiny amid the chaos and delays.

In Atlantic City on Thursday, Christie said the shelved tunnel project wouldn't have been completed by now anyway.

On Wednesday, Christie joined Booker and other federal and state lawmakers at a news conference to press the federal government to hold up to its previous commitment to spend half the estimated $24 billion to pay for the Gateway project.

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Christie and Booker say they've invited Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for a visit. Christie also raised the gasoline tax by 23 cents a gallon to help sustain a $2 billion transportation program over the next eight years.

The $20 billion project rebuilds the portal bridge over the Hackensack River and adds two tunnels under the Hudson, allowing Amtrak to fix the existing tunnels damaged by Superstorm Sandy.

The Trump administration has promised a trillion-dollar infrastructure package but has yet to announce where or how it plans to allocate that investment. Booker said during the event at Newark Penn Station.

"We're teetering every single day on the brink of truly a traffic Armageddon", Booker said. One sign read "hypocrite" in all capital letters, and another referenced the bridge-lane closure scandal known as Bridgegate while labeling Christie as the state's worst transportation "disaster".

Once reporters started asking questions, Booker urged them to focus not on any of the prior decisions, but those that need to be made going forward to ensure that the ongoing commuting problems are addressed.

"That's history, and I hate that I have to revisit that all the time", Booker said about Christie's decision to kill the ARC tunnel.

Ras Baraka, left, mayor of Newark, N.J., speaks as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, second from right, and U.S. Sen.

Christie said Thursday night that his administration has been speaking with Amtrak and he's "hopeful that we're going to get some satisfaction from Amtrak in the very near future in trying to deal with these problems".

"I don't want to be in a circumstance where I'm withholding payments".

Specifically, the bipartisan effort seeks to ensure that the Trump Administration provides funding for The Gateway Project, a $24 billion twin tunnel system under the Hudson River that would relieve the two currently-used tunnels, which are almost 110 years old. He was one of several elected officials on hand today for a somewhat truncated press conference led by, and limited to questions directed to, Sen.

"In the end, I just want them to do their job". "He has been at the helm of a bleeding of resources".

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