Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Candidate Praises Christie for Halting Tunnel Project

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Candidate Praises Christie for Halting Tunnel Project

Article excerpt

Governor Christie's decision to halt construction on new Hudson River commuter tunnels "looks pretty good in retrospect," even as damage from Superstorm Sandy is now expected to cause more delays during upcoming repair work, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate said Wednesday.

Jeffrey Bell, speaking to The Record's editorial board, also said he considers Christie's success with Latinos last year during his bid for reelection a model, adding he favors comprehensive immigration reform even if other Republicans nationally have taken a firmer position on the issue.

"It makes us seem -- I mean the Republican Party -- completely unwelcoming," Bell said of the stances some other GOP candidates have taken.

Bell, a 70-year-old former aide to Ronald Reagan, is trying to upset incumbent U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat who is ahead in the race, according to the most recent public opinion polls. Christie headlined a fundraiser for Bell on Tuesday and Bell, who lost bids for the Senate in 1978 and 1982, said the Republican governor "has been very helpful."

Bell didn't try to distance himself from Christie's 2010 decision to stop work on the new tunnels, which the governor said would have exposed New Jersey to billions of dollars in potential cost overruns.

But Amtrak officials have warned that needed repairs in the two existing tunnels between New Jersey and New York in the wake of Sandy in 2012 will cause new delays on a commuter system shared with NJ Transit that already draws near-daily complaints on social media.

Though construction on the proposed tunnels would not have been finished even if Christie didn't stop the project, the governor has faced new criticism for his decision since federal officials say the tunnels will ultimately need to be replaced.

Bell, a former regular commuter from Trenton to New York, said Christie's decision to halt the project "looks pretty good in retrospect. …

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