Legal Fees to Fight Canceled New Jersey Rail Tunnel Bill Top $800,000


The legal cost of fighting the federal government's $271 million bill for an unfinished Hudson River rail tunnel project has surpassed $800,000, invoices filed with the state show.

Washington, D.C.-based law firm Patton Boggs billed New Jersey taxpayers $469,715 for legal work performed in January for NJ Transit.

That covers more than 700 hours in combined hours of work performed by 11 attorneys, more than $1,000 for research and $35.69 for long-distance phone calls.

Those costs are in addition to the $333,281 NJ Transit has already paid the firm for work done in December.

NJ Transit spokesman Paul Wyckoff said January was a busy period for the attorneys, who were building a case for why New Jersey should not have to repay the Federal Transit Administration for $271 million in federal money that went toward the Access to the Region's Core, or ARC, tunnel before Governor Christie scuttled the project in October.

"Given the fact that there are hundreds of millions of dollars at stake here, we want to do the best to protect the interest of the state's taxpayers," he said.

ARC called for the construction of a new pair of tunnels under the Hudson River that would have given North Jersey commuters direct -- transfer-free -- access to midtown Manhattan. Christie shut it down after projections showed it could go as much as $5 billion over its $8.7 billion budget. So far, $623 million has been spent on ARC since 2006, when preliminary engineering and design work began, said Wyckoff. Of that, $145 million came from New Jersey, he said.