Responding to federal concerns about potential cost overruns that could impact promised project funding, officials in charge of the $8.7-billion Hudson River rail link between New Jersey and Manhattan have halted project procurement and land acquisition for 30 days as they review costs. Officials appear confident that costs for the Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) project are set to stay on track in the current competitive construction market.

In a Sept. 9 statement, James Weinstein, executive director of project leader New Jersey Transit, announced the month-long halt after completion of a five-month cost study by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). He said the review showed ARC “properly accounted for” costs but also indicated that, based on overruns looming on other New York-area transportation projects, “additional contingency factors could impact [ARC’s] overall cost estimate.”

One project source says the hiatus “won’t be a serious delay” in the schedule and hints at political posturing involving FTA and New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie (R). The project is set for completion in 2018. “The FTA has one opinion on costs; we have another,” he says. “But we expect to resolve our issues with FTA.”

The state is set to contribute to the project, but its transportation trust fund is severely diminished. FTA and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have both pledged $3 billion to ARC.

On the New Jersey side, work is proceeding on a $259-million tunnel contract, awarded last year to a joint venture of Schiavone Construction, J.F. Shea Construction and Skanska USA Civil, says a N.J. Transit spokesman. It will involve 5,200 linear ft of tunneling.

But a final contract for 5,300 ft of tunneling on the Manhattan side has been delayed. The apparent winner, a joint venture of Barnard of New Jersey Inc. and Judlau Contracting, submitted a low bid of $583 million late last year. One project official says the delay is linked to right-of-way legal issues and that the winning team has agreed to hold its price. Contract award is expected in October, he says.

Also delayed is procurement progress on the final ARC contract, estimated to cost at least $500 million, for 14,600 ft of tunnels under the river that will connect the two sides.

The spokesman says five teams submitted technical proposals last month, with submissions “still undergoing review.” An official says official bids will be submitted early next month, with contract award still expected in November—likely close to original projections.