POP QUIZ! Which NYC terminal handles more than 250,000 passenger trips on weekdays, is a destination for tens of thousands of commuters from New Jersey, has leaky ceilings, faulty air conditioners, dirty rest rooms and frequent delays? If you guessed Penn Station you would be wrong. It’s the Port Authority. OK, so maybe you read our headline and took a good guess.
For the past several years there has been feuding between New Jersey and New York on plans for the Port Authority. Just last week things seemed to be closer to working out, as The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced that it is starting a formal environmental review process. The process would include the replacement of the facility which was built in the 1950’s and is in terrible shape.
One of the first plans, which has now been nixed, was to construct a new terminal a block west of the existing terminal. This didn’t go over well with New York lawmakers and community leaders. As to be expected in many cases, community leaders accused the bistate agency's New Jersey contingent of ignoring their concerns and blundering ahead without their input.
The plan is to now build a new terminal on the site of the current facility. If you need directions, it’s at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue. This seems to be the current leading option. According to Port Authority Executive Director Richard Cotton, it is also the focus of preliminary engineering discussions.
Now we get to the part that we all wonder…how much will it cost? The estimated cost of a new bus terminal could be as much as $10 billion, and construction likely wouldn't be complete for at least a decade.
If you are interested in learning more, a planning document will be available for public review and comment during the next four months. Then come the public hearings in July and September2019.
Readers should know that the Port Authority operates the region's bridges, tunnels and transit hubs. The agency also owns the World Trade Center site. Back in 2014 the agency was criticized for not including money to replace the terminal in a 10-year capital plan. Then in 2017, the authority's board approved $3.5 billion for the terminal in a revised 10-year plan after months of political back and forth.
We will close with some Port Authority gossip. John Degnan, the former authority chairman had to recuse himself from the bus terminal negotiations because of allegations of favoritism to New Jersey's interests. Then New Jersey legislators accused Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of holding the bus terminal project hostage. They say it was to preserve more money for a redevelopment of New York's LaGuardia Airport.
As of now, eminent domain is off the table. But we shall see!