Port Authority Backs Funding for Long-Stalled Hudson Tunnel

By: | at 05:03 PM | Maritime   | Intermodal  

The new railroad tunnel into New York City moved a small step closer to reality.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey proposed a $32 billion capital plan for the next decade that includes $2.7 billion to build a tunnel under the Hudson River and rehabilitate the century-old one damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The sum set aside for the tunnel is a fraction of the $24 billion project’s cost, which also involves replacing bridges and adding high-speed rail lines. New York and New Jersey are splitting the cost with the federal government. The two states haven’t identified other funding sources, for the project, known as Gateway, apart from the Port Authority’s share.

“Today’s commitment to the Gateway project is by far and away the largest single commitment of financing to the Gateway tunnel,” said Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye.

The Port Authority’s plan is the product of months of horse-trading between the governors of New York and New Jersey. It includes $3.5 billion to replace the agency’s decrepit bus terminal near Times Square in Manhattan, a project which could cost as much as $10 billion. The plan allocates $6.4 billion for redevelopment at New York City-area airports, including $1 billion for John F. Kennedy International.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Wednesday said he’s hoping to attract $7 billion in private capital to redevelop JFK.

The Port Authority also approved spending $600 million to help redevelop Delta Air Lines Inc.’s facilities at LaGuardia. The airline will spend an additional $3.6 billion. Delta’s new terminal will consist of 37 gates, capable of accommodating aircraft ranging from regional jets to Delta’s full fleet of narrow-bodies, according to the Port Authority.

Construction began last year on a new $4 billion terminal to replace LaGuardia’s more than 50-year-old central terminal building, which houses airlines including United, American and Southwest.

Transit advocates from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign said the funding allocated to the new bus terminal is inadequate because it serves 230,000 commuters daily, more than Amtrak and New Jersey Transit commuter rail combined and 2.5 times as many annual passengers as LaGuardia Airport.

“If you are a daily bus commuter into the Port Authority Bus Terminal, you are one of 230,000 people who is frustrated by an obsolete, grimy, congested and depressing transportation facility that has gotten far too little attention from the agency that owns it,” the group’s executive director, Veronica Vanterpool, said in a statement.

“The PANYNJ continues to focus almost exclusively on rail and airport facilities that do not serve as many people as one of the region’s most important—and certainly its most ignored—transit facilities.”

The capital plan also includes $1.7 billion to extend the PATH subway from lower Manhattan to Newark Liberty International Airport, a priority for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and $1.5 billion for a rail link to LaGuardia airport. The LaGuardia link, a priority for Cuomo, would run along the Grand Central Parkway and connect to the 7 train subway and the Long Island Rail Road at Willets Point in Queens.

Port Authority commissioner Ken Lipper, a Cuomo appointee, said both rail links were unnecessary, but the agency’s nine other commissioners voted against Lipper’s motion to amend the capital plan and strike the airport rail links.

“I don’t believe that compromise is a bad thing,” said Port Authority chairman John Degnan, a Christie appointee. “I’m not embarrassed by coming up with a capital plan that we believe will secure the approval of the two governors, which they have the right to do or not to do.”


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