Christie defends killing tunnel project he says 'stunk'

Officials say that if the current rail tunnel connecting NY and New Jersey were to close, 75 percent of rail capacity would be impacted, displacing 60,000 New Jersey commuters.

In the wake of two recent train derailments, the first of which snarled train traffic for a week, Christie said the problems of the last three weeks were the fault of Amtrak, not New Jersey Transit.

At a news conference Wednesday to urge more federal funding for a new tunnel, the Republican governor didn't answer questions on the matter.

"I've already spoken to the president about this, so the president is well aware of my point of view on this project", Christie said. "When trains derail at Penn Station in NY or get stuck in the tunnels under the Hudson, it is not only a real safety concern, but it creates overcrowding in all of our facilities - Hoboken, Newark and throughout New Jersey's transportation hubs".

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But after beating Corzine in November 2009, Christie about a year later made a decision to halt construction that had already started and cancel the project.

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.

"She needs to see the project that we all agreed upon during the Obama administration, which is a significant improvement over the projects that have been proposed in the past", Christie said.

Protestors gathered outside the meeting at Newark Penn Station to blame the governor for the recent rail issues.

As Christie spoke about the importance of new rail tunnels Wednesday, protesters were also on the scene, holding up signs that read "hypocrite", and "resist Trump".

Christie seemed anxious Thursday to wag a finger at the line of questioning from some reporters, saying that "the press in this state isn't happy unless they're bitching".

"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. He also credited Christie for working with him in recent years as a finance plan for Gateway came together with cooperation from the region's US senators, as well as Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

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

The existing 110-year-old tunnel connecting New Jersey and New York City is a source of regular delays due to overhead wire problems, and it suffered severe saltwater damage from Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Christie is term-limited and leaves office in January. 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. Booker, then serving as Newark's mayor, was one of the earliest supporters of Christie's push to establish a new cap on local property tax hikes.

Eventually, Christie was invited by Booker to comment. However, after it ended, PIX11 News asked him about them. I want to talk about where we are right now. He said that he endorsed what Senator Booker is trying to do. "He has been at the helm of a bleeding of resources".

Vanessa Coleman

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