New Jersey governor Chris Christie called for a 30-day halt of construction on the USD 8.7bn ARC (Access to the Region’s Core) tunnel, which is also known as the Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel, citing potential cost overruns and a shortage of funding.

The 30 days will be used for investigations into whether or not the state of New Jersey can pay for its portion of the project, he said. Approximately USD 3bn is being funded from each the Federal Government and the Port Authority.

Christie, a republican, has been called on by New Jersey democrats to push the project forward to ensure the state doesn’t lose jobs or federal funding.

“The ARC Tunnel project is New Jersey’s best opportunity to put people to work and repair the economy,” said senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who was a member of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee. “Killing this project would cost our state thousands of good paying jobs and send billions of dollars slated for New Jersey off to other projects around the country.”

It’s reflective of a wider U.S. trend of republicans voicing opposition to rail plans, in the run up to midterm elections on Tuesday, November 2. Polls indicate enough republicans are likely to defeat their democrat opponents to take control of the House, and rail projects nationwide could be in jeopardy as the ‘Party of No’ takes a hard-line stance on government spending.

The ARC tunnel calls for two single-track rail lines connecting New Jersey to Penn Station in Manhattan beneath the Hudson River, in three sections. The contract for the 2.26km Hudson Tunnels has not yet been awarded, though five contractors have been pre-qualified to proceed to Phase II for the final design and construction.

Contracts for tunnels on the New Jersey and Manhattan lengths have been awarded. A $583 million contract went to Barnard-Judlau jv for the 1.6km long Manhattan Tunnels, which will connect to a new underground expansion of New York’s Penn Station. Schiavone, Shea and Skanska jv received a $259 million contract for the two 1.6km TBM bored Palisades Tunnels, which will run through the Palisades hard rock on the New Jersey side of the river.