(Port Authority NY NJ photo)
A $9.3 billion annual budget up for final consideration at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey calls for a big increase in capital investments after the agency reduced such spending in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The agency released its proposed multi-billion-dollar 2024 budget Nov. 15, one that consists of $3.9 billion in operating expenses, $3.6 billion in capital expenses, and $1.8 billion for debt service and deferred expenses.
Port Authority NY NJ said in a news release that the budget reinvigorates its "commitment to modern, secure facilities as activity and net revenues continue their recovery" following the pandemic. "These investments prioritize a safe and seamless customer experience while enabling growth and economic development across the region."
Among the projects that the bi-state agency's proposed capital budget will help pay to support are:
- The advancement of a redevelopment of John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York into a unified, world-class international gateway.
- Continued planning and advancing of the new Midtown [Manhattan] Bus Terminal, replacing the current 1950s-era terminal with a $370 million modern transportation hub that can accommodate capacity increases and help ease city congestion.
- Development of a new $400 million AirTrain Newark system to replace the current outmoded system serving Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, as well as advancement of the EWR Station project that will expand rail and airport access for underserved Newark and Elizabeth communities.
- Continuation of work on the $2 billion, 11-project "Restoring the George" program at the 90-year-old George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River, connecting Manhattan to Fort Lee, N.J. The effort is designed to rehabilitate or repair nearly every component of the world's busiest vehicular bridge, including the replacement of 592 suspender ropes and the opening of pedestrian and bicycle access on the north side of the bridge.
- Beginning of major work on the Port Street Corridor Improvement project at Port Newark to rebuild one of the facility's main entrances and improve trucking operations that support the region's robust supply chain.
- Nearly $60 million to purchase 72 rail cars for the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) rapid transit line, which will support the ongoing push to put nine-car trains into service on the Newark to World Trade Center line. Another $40 million is earmarked for repairs at the Exchange Place, Grove Street, Hoboken, and Newport train stations.
- Further steps toward the Port Authority's commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The budget includes $86 million toward net-zero initiatives in addition to over $220 million to expand resiliency and flood mitigation measures.
Additionally, NJ Spotlight News reported Nov. 20 that nearly $110 million will be set aside to upgrade the New Jersey roadways that lead to the Lincoln Tunnel. The improvements include continued rehabilitation of the Pulaski Skyway and replacement of the Witt Penn Bridge.
In addition, the Holland Tunnel will likely get about $50 million to pay for repairs, including fixes for the tunnel's electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems that were damaged by Superstorm Sandy 11 years ago.
"The overarching message from this budget proposal is clear: We are full steam ahead," said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O'Toole. "We're moving forward on several major projects that are critical to the region, including redevelopment and modernization work at all three of our major airports, the PATH system, the Midtown Bus Terminal, and the busiest and largest container port on the East Coast. It's gratifying that customers have already started to notice the fruits of our efforts at places like LaGuardia and Newark, and we're just getting started."
"This spending plan is both ambitious in its scope and responsible in its proposed spending," added Rick Cotton, Port Authority NY NJ's executive director. "We're coming out of the pandemic more determined than ever to move people and goods safely, efficiently, and prudently while doing so at the highest standards possible."
The Port Authority last revised its long-range capital plan in 2017, adopting a 10-year vision that emphasized the need to invest in core transportation assets across a 1,500-sq.-mi. region spanning more than 200 municipalities in both New York and New Jersey.
The 2024 budget — which also relies on inflationary bridge and tunnel toll increases and AirTrain fare hikes — will be up for final approval during a Port Authority board meeting scheduled for Dec. 14.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey builds, operates and maintains many of the most important transportation and trade infrastructure assets in the country. For over a century, the agency's network of major airports, critical bridges, tunnels, and bus terminals as well as a commuter rail line and the busiest seaport on the East Coast has been among the most vital in the country.
It also owns and manages the 16-acre World Trade Center campus, and its historic $37 billion, 10-year capital plan includes unprecedented transformation of the region's three major airports — LaGuardia, Newark Liberty and JFK — in addition to an array of other new and upgraded assets.
Today's top stories