Sarlo: Christie Needs To Be Up Front With How He Will Pay Feds’ $271+ Million Tab

TRENTON — Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo today said he was anxious to hear from the Governor or state Treasurer on how the administration plans to pay the federal government’s $271 million bill for work already done on the recently killed ARC tunnel.

“For a state government that continues to cry poverty, a $271 million hole that needs to be closed immediately is a big deal,” said Sarlo (D-Bergen/Essex/Passaic). “Hopefully, this can be done without jeopardizing other essential transportation projects or programs.”

The Federal Transit Authority yesterday sent a letter to New Jersey Transit demanding immediate repayment of the $271.091 million — “plus reasonable interest and penalty charges” — in federal funds that already had been spent on work for the ARC tunnel.

Sarlo said the administration must be up front whether the repayment would come from the $1.25 billion in increased tolls that had initially been earmarked for the tunnel.

“We certainly don’t need more hearings that would only serve to drag this out through the political process and the press,” said Sarlo. “But the people, especially the commuters whose higher tolls were supposed to help build the tunnel, deserve an explanation. More importantly, we all must know whether this fiscal hole the state dug itself by canceling the project will mean potholes elsewhere will go unfilled.”