CAUTIONARY TALE: After 15 years of planning & studies, transit project dumped for mega-mall

The tough-talking governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, stopped a major transit project that increased the number of commuter trains from the Meadowlands to NYC from 23 to 40 plus.  The stated reason was cost overruns that are all too familiar to those familiar with Boston's Big Dig.  The Garden State's governor decided to replace the transit project with a megamall, Xanadu, which would benefit developers.  But the megamall also has a history of cost overruns.

What is the cautionary tale here?  Although he denies it, Christie is being courted as a potential GOP presidential candidate.  The decision to scrap the transit project may have more do to with lining up supporters in the real estate development sector than fiscal conservatism.  Developers have lost millions in the last three years and funds dedicated to transit projects may be seen as an easy road to financing.  If Christie manages to get a way with using the transit dollars to even partially finance Xanadu, other communities should take note.  Even if the dog catcher is running for re-election, local developers may make it worth his/her while to find a method of trashing transit oriented projects or scaling them back significantly.

Two articles below have more information on specifics.

NYTimes City Room Article 10-27-10

 

This Big City article by Theodore Brown

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