Like so many issues involving Gov. Chris Christie, one can be suspicious of his motives while supporting his general position.
Take the tunnel under the Hudson River. This is a needed project, no doubt about it. If I had to commute from New Jersey to New York City every day, I'd be taking a shovel and digging it myself. But the fact that New Jersey is on the hook for every penny of the cost overruns on this mammoth project - at a time when the state can barely scrape together the money to patch potholes - is rather unsettling.
Christie's put the project on hold, and Democrats and the federal government are lobbying heavily to get him on board again. Christie says the cost overruns could run as high as $5 billion. That would be in addition to the $2.7 billion the state has already agreed to pay toward the project. The federal government and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are chipping in another $3 billion each.
Democrats in the Legislature want Christie to show them his numbers. Federal officials say their own estimates of the cost overruns are only $1 billion.
Christie may well have pulled the figures out of the air. But even the federal government is saying there is likely to be at least $1 billion more expected from New Jersey. And those are the estimated overruns now - what might the estimates be a year from now?
Of course, there are all sorts of other motives Christie might have to kill this project - like polishing his conservative credentials at a time when he's being talked about as a presidential candidate, or using the tunnel money to fund the Transportation Trust Fund without raising gasoline taxes (a very short-term and short-sighted solution to the trust fund problem).
And the project has been targeted for some time by opponents who say it doesn't properly address transportation needs - calling it a "train to Macy's basement."
But the bottom line is this: New Jersey could be on the hook for substantial overruns for this project - whether they are $1 billion or $5 billion. Hopefully, the federal government or another entity will pay those costs and get the project back on track.