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Port Authority’s Journey Begins with a Single Step- But it’s a huge one for NJ

Tuesday, March 29, 2016   (0 Comments)
Share | 3/29/2016

Despite fears to the contrary, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey seems to share the vision that New Jersey lawmakers have for transportation in the northern part of the state, including building a new bus terminal in Manhattan- not across the river in New Jersey- and devoting funds for engineering work to advance the planned cross-Hudson Gateway tunnel project. The Port Authority’s commissioners voted in favor of advancing those projects and also cleared the way for major airport improvements in both New York and New Jersey during a public meeting last week. Legislators—who’ve been leading efforts in recent years to get the Port Authority to commit to both the Gateway project and construction of a new bus terminal—say their mission now shifts to making sure those major projects stay on schedule and are designed with growing commuter demand in mind. The state Senate’s Legislative Oversight Committee will be meeting next month to begin that effort. Also on the agenda for lawmakers going forward is getting Gov. Chris Christie’s desk legislation that would bring broader reforms to the Port Authority itself. That push, they say, has become more important in the wake of the agency’s actions last week, which also included approving more than $5 billion in spending on proposed airport improvements in both New York and New Jersey.  

Bus terminal is obsolete

Opened in 1950, the current bus terminal at Eighth Avenue and West 42nd Street has been operating beyond its designed capacity for the last 50 years. And the number of riders using the crowded facility on a daily basis is only expected to increase, from 230,000 to 330,000, within the next 25 years. The board’s action last week means funds for the new bus terminal will be in the agency’s long-term capital plan. The agency earlier this month had already announced a design competition for the new facility.

Deal reached on Gateway

Last year, officials in New Jersey and New York announced a breakthrough deal with the federal government to split the cost of the planned $20 billion Gateway project, which features other infrastructure improvements in addition to construction of two new rail tubes under the Hudson River. The goal is to accommodate commuter-rail demand that is expected to double by 2030, but also to allow for repairs to damage that was caused to the existing 105-year-old tubes by 2012’s superstorm Sandy.  Last year’s agreement on the Gateway project also involved giving the Port Authority a key role in its development, and the board voted last week to fund $70 million in initial engineering work, using $35 million of its own funds and $35 million in federal dollars. The agency also voted during its meeting to authorize nearly $3 billion in spending to improve LaGuardia Airport, and another $2.3 billion to replace Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport.

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