Saturday, February 5, 2011

To dig or not to dig

We have an interesting situation going on here in New Jersey. The Federal Government had promised $3 Billion to assist in building a rail tunnel to connect New Jersey to Manhattan, relieving pressure on the existing tunnel that New Jersey Transit shares with Amtrak. That sounded fine when the total tunnel cost was projected to cost $8 Billion but when new estimates came in at $11 Billion and growing, our Governor did a remarkable thing. He cancelled the project. People were up in arms about the $300 Million already spent, land purchased, jobs promised, etc. but Governor Christie held his ground. He wasn't about to saddle New Jersey taxpayers with some home-grown 'Big Dig' boondoggle if he could avoid it. His mandate is to lower taxes and reduce government spending and he saw here a great chance to save some money.

Read the full article from the New York Times here: TYtimes article from 2010/10/08

Five weeks later, the Bloomberg Administration came up with a good second option: Extending the #7 subway train under the Hudson to connect with the Secaucus, NJ train station. Cost of this option $5 Billion.

Take the No. 7 to Secaucus? That’s a Plan

Unlike the old project, the new plan does not require costly condemnation proceedings or extensive tunneling in Manhattan, because the city is already building a No. 7 station at 34th Street and 11th Avenue, roughly one block from the waterfront. In July, a massive 110-ton tunnel boring machine completed drilling for the city’s $2.1 billion extension of the No. 7 line from Times Square to the new station.

Read the full article from the New York Times here: NYTimes article from 2010/11/17

It takes guts to cancel big projects but this must always be considered. Even when a project has been approved, if the cost, scope or schedule has gone beyond the parameters set by management, the project needs to be re-evaluated. And if it looks like the costs no longer make sense, throwing good money after bad is not an option. By cancelling this project, better options can be considered. As a New Jersey taxpayer currently paying over $13,000 in property taxes, I'm hoping my Governor is always looking for more efficient ways to spend my money.

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