by Daniel P. Sullivan
Chairman, Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders
We blinked. That’s right, when faced with one of the most important public projects in North America, otherwise known as the ARC Tunnel, New Jersey blinked.
For now, at least as of this writing, our Governor has unilaterally halted the work.
To be clear, as a proud lifelong New Jersey citizen, I know the people of this state are not quitters. But we are having a moment of doubt.
I agree that doubt can be healthy. Doubt provides a chance to step back and assess.
Doubt is especially useful regarding major public projects. Doubt forces planners and engineers to prepare diligently, analyze every contingency, and examine every alternative.
That is exactly what has been going on with the ARC Tunnel, for 20 years and more. The ARC Tunnel has been studied and examined inside and out, for a generation. The current critics raise old issues that have been thoroughly debunked over and over again, and Governor Christie’s stop-work order was apparently based on a wildly inflated figure that was, to put it charitably, inaccurate.
The time for doubting is past. Now is the time for action.
The need for another rail tunnel is crystal clear. Our commuter trains are packed to the gills and delays are the order of the day. Meanwhile, too few trains lead to more road traffic, more traffic jams, and more accidents.
The ARC Tunnel will double rail capacity to Manhattan and finally provide more Union County residents with direct rail access. That’s a huge positive for the economy throughout Union County, in addition to the rest of New Jersey.
It’s worth mentioning both of the two existing tunnels under the Hudson River are public works projects of national significance. The Holland was the first long vehicular tunnel, and the Lincoln Tunnel was among the many great public projects that helped pull us out of the Great Depression by putting people to work on legacy projects that advance the entire nation.
When times are tough and private job creation lags, that is when public resources are best put to use. Construction costs are as cheap as they will ever be, and to delay the project now will only increase the burden on future generations.
I refuse to accept the idea that my generation was the one that blinked, and retreated from a crucial public project. On behalf of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders I support moving forward with construction of the ARC Tunnel.