Christie defends killing tunnel project he says 'stunk'

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker left speaks as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie listens during a news conference at Newark Penn Station Wednesday

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie said a Hudson River rail tunnel project he discontinued in 2010 over cost overrun concerns "stunk" and wouldn't have been finished in time to alleviate recent problems at New York's Penn Station anyway. The rail tunnel connecting New Jersey and NY serves hundreds of thousands of commuters a week in what Booker called the most economically active river crossing in the world. A report by the federal Government Accountability Office later disputed those numbers as well as Christie's assessment of New Jersey's percentage of the overall project cost.

Although it was only mentioned tangentially, New Jersey Transit has been the target of much public ire over the past year, with frequent, often record-breaking delays, fare hikes, service cuts and scattershot funding that has forced the agency to cannibalize its capital budget to fund its operating expenses, all under Christie's watch. Now, he's essentially endorsing the very thing he'd been so prominently against.

"This is my news conference", Sen.

Protestors gathered outside the meeting at Newark Penn Station to blame the governor for the recent rail issues. Before he could answer, Booker leapt to Christie's defense.

Booker also appeared with Christie at an event in Newark in 2013, just as the governor was seeking re-election and Booker was running to fill the Senate vacancy that was created by Lautenberg's death earlier that year. The governor kept his remarks uncharacteristically brief. "So the President's well aware of my point of view on this project".

What neither he nor Sen.

"We're teetering every single day on the brink of truly a traffic Armageddon", Booker said. For example, Christie recently told The New York Times that he still speaks regularly with Trump despite getting passed over a year ago as his vice-presidential running mate, and he was pressed yesterday to explain why his regular access to Trump isn't enough to ensure the new infrastructure work, with a price tag of at least $20 billion, is a top federal priority.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker right speaks to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during a news conference at Newark Penn Station Wednesday
Christie Mum On Axed Rail Project, Pushes For Gateway Project Funding

"In the end, I just want them to do their job".

"I'm exhausted of politics", he continued, adding that "people are hurting" because of frequent signal problems, derailments and other delays.

"But I want to make clear to everybody: I kept stepping up when the questions were directed to me and he kept - he wouldn't get away from the podium", Christie said. Christie also took issue with the project's design, which called for NJ Transit trains going into Manhattan to arrive not at Penn Station, as they now do, but at a new terminal less than half a mile away, near Herald Square.

He continued, telling news director Eric Scott: "But the dummies on this radio station, and the guests they have don't want to acknowledge that, because that's hard math for them to work with, for the dope you work with in the morning". "All these commuters, we have so much stress". He said that he endorsed what Senator Booker is trying to do. "If we did what we're supposed to do", Butler told PIX11 News, "we wouldn't have the problems that we've had".

As for the senator whose efforts Butler and other commuters endorse, he said the focus needs to be on those efforts, rather than on past cancellations of similar attempts to improve the region's rail transportation.

"This is my press conference", Booker said.

Christie and Booker are calling on federal Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to tour the crumbling transit infrastructure around NY and New Jersey.

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