TRENTON , N.J. — Governor Chris Christie pulled back yesterday on plans to cancel a nearly $9 billion rail tunnel linking New Jersey and Manhattan, agreeing after meeting with the US transportation secretary to listen to other options for one of the nation’s largest public works projects.
Secretary Ray LaHood met with Christie for nearly an hour at the State House a day after the governor decided to scrap the Access to the Region’s Core project, or ARC, a move Christie said was aimed at protecting the long-range financial interests of state taxpayers.
“Governor Christie and I had a good discussion this afternoonduring which I presented a number of options for continuing the ARC tunnel project,’’ LaHood said. “We agreed to put together a . . . group from the US Department of Transportation and the office of New Jersey Transit executive director Jim Weinstein that will review these options.’’
The team will report to the Republican governor, a rising star within his party for assuming the mantle of protector of taxpayer money, within two weeks.
Christie’s spokeswoman, Maria Comella, said the project would continue to wind down. “The fact that the ARC project is not financially viable and is expected to dramatically exceed its current budget remains unchanged,’’ Christie said in a statement.
He added, though, that LaHood “presented several options to potentially salvage a trans-Hudson tunnel project.’’
The project had been in the works for about 20 years. NJ Transit commuter trains and Amtrak cars share a century-old two-track tunnel beneath the Hudson River. The new tunnel would add two more tracks, more than doubling the number of NJ Transit trains that could pass under the river.