New Jersey governor Chris Christie on Thursday ended the USD 8.7bn ARC (Access to the Region’s Core) tunnel, also known as the Trans-Hudson Express Tunnel, after the 30-day suspension he called in mid-September.

At a press conference Christie said the state couldn’t risk the rail tunnel costing more than had been originally planned because the budget could increase to USD 11bn, or even USD 14bn.

“We simply can’t spend what we don’t have,” he said. “I had to figure out how I was going to pay for it. We simply can’t.”

The project called 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 USD 583M contract went to Barnard-Judlau jv for the 1.6km long Manhattan Tunnels, connecting to a new underground expansion of Penn Station. A Shea, Schiavone and Skanska jv received a USD 259M contract for the two 1.6km TBM bored Palisades Tunnels, on the New Jersey side of the river.

Approximately USD 3bn had been set aside for funding from each the Federal Government and the Port Authority.

Christie, a republican, has been called on by New Jersey democrats during the suspension to push the tunnel project forward, noting that killing it would cost jobs and billions of dollars slated for New Jersey.

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who was a member of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, called it one of the biggest public policy blunders in the state’s history.

“The money that would have gone to ARC will now be headed to Houston or Orlando or another city with an approved, shovel-ready project,” he said. “It could take New Jersey another 30 to 40 years, and a much higher price tag, to recover from the loss of the ARC Tunnel.”

He has accused Christie of using outdated numbers when saying the cost could be as much as USD 14bn. “After meetings between engineers from NJ Transit and the FTA in recent weeks, the final cost of the project would have been below $11 billion,” Lautenberg said.