Comment to the Wall Street Journal on the NJ-NY Tunnel

To say that the routine cost escalation of major infrastructure projects is a travesty is to understate the case. It is no defense that private sector project costs escalate. Such costs are paid by stockholders, not taxpayers. No one forces the taxpayers to pay for a building that costs twice as much as planned, unless the company happens to be too big to fail.

There are numerous questions about this project, not the least of which is why does New Jersey think it should be spending money to make it easier for its residents to leave the state to work? NJ is not that dependent upon New York and only a relatively small share of Northern NJ commuters travel to Manhattan… the vast majority stay in NJ. Finally, all job growth in the New York metropolitan area since 1956 has been outside Manhattan… so the consultants projections of a 500,000 increase by 2030 in Manhattan is about as believable as the original Big Dig cost estimates.

If Governor Christie musters the courage to stop this project now, it could be a shot across the bow of an international vendor and consulting engineering community that has routinely low-balled costs only to later jack them up, confident that no project would be canceled once started.

Wendell Cox
Former Member, Los Angeles County Transportation Commission
Former Member, Amtrak Reform Council

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