Press Release Article


Date: Aug 03, 2017
Press Release Number: 146-2017

Commissioner Kevin J. O'Toole, a former New Jersey state senator, was elected today as the 20th Chairman of the agency's Board of Directors by his fellow commissioners, succeeding Chairman John Degnan who had served in that post since July 2014.

The Port Authority's Board also approved the selection of Rick Cotton, a former top executive at NBC Universal who most recently served as Governor Andrew Cuomo's Special Counsel for Interagency Initiatives, as the agency's new executive director. Mr. Cotton replaces Executive Director Pat Foye, who had held the job since November 2011, effective 8 a.m. Aug. 14.

In addition to the elections of Chairman O'Toole and Executive Director Cotton, the Board also paid tribute to the exemplary public service provided by Mr. Degnan and Mr. Foye during their tenures with the agency.

"This is one of the most critical periods in the Port Authority's storied history as we continue to rebuild and overhaul some of the region's most vital transportation assets, including the Port Authority Bus Terminal, PATH rail system, George Washington Bridge, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports and the Gateway passenger rail tunnel project," Chairman O'Toole said. "I look forward to working cooperatively with this board to make sure we deliver the projects that will improve the lives of everyday commuters, while enhancing the region's economy."

"It is vital that the Port Authority have the ambition to provide world-class transportation infrastructure to our region," said Executive Director Cotton. "Assuring that our facilities – the airports, including access to the airports, the bus terminal, our port facilities, bridges, tunnels and PATH – meet best-in-class facility standards and employ global best practices must be the Port Authority's overarching goal. Only if we measure ourselves against the best can the Port Authority help power this region's economy and continue to improve the movement of people and goods throughout the region, while creating jobs and growth. I look forward to working with the Board and the 7,000 men and women of this agency to deliver on our mission of meeting the region's transportation needs cost effectively and efficiently."

Among the key projects the new leadership team will focus on in the Port Authority's 10-year capital plan are siting and building a replacement Port Authority Bus Terminal on Manhattan's West Side, creating a brand new, unified LaGuardia Airport with new AirTrain access, transforming John F. Kennedy International Airport, building a new Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport and extending the PATH rail line to Newark Liberty from downtown Newark. Goals will include continuing to partner with the private sector where possible, as well as controlling costs, bringing projects in on time and enhancing the overall customer experience.

Chairman O'Toole joined the Port Authority Board in July, following his nomination by Governor Chris Christie and resigning his state Senate seat from Essex County, New Jersey.

Chairman O'Toole is a founding and managing partner of O'Toole Scrivo, a law practice encompassing toxic tort, environmental law, risk management, class actions, complex litigation, and corporate investigations. In addition to his law practice, Chairman O'Toole had a long career in public service at the local and state level in New Jersey. After serving in elective positions in Cedar Grove, he was first elected to the New Jersey General Assembly in 1995 and served until May 2001. He then served in the state Senate from May 2001 until January 2002. He was elected again to the General Assembly in 2001 and re-elected twice. In 2007, he was elected to the state Senate and re-elected in 2011 and 2013. He left his seat on July 1, 2017. He received a B.A. and J.D. from Seton Hall University.

Since January 2015, Executive Director Cotton has served as Governor Cuomo's Special Counsel for Interagency Initiatives, overseeing most of the Governor's major downstate infrastructure priorities including LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports, the Penn-Farley Complex, the new Tappan Zee Bridge and the expansion of the Javits Center. He joined the administration following 25 years at NBC Universal, where he held a number of positions beginning in 1989, including 20 years as Executive Vice President and General Counsel and four years in London as President and Managing Director of CNBC Europe. He also served as Executive Secretary to the Department at the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare under Secretary Joseph A. Califano, Jr. and Special Assistant for Renewable Energy to Deputy Secretary of Energy John Sawhill at the U.S. Department of Energy. He received an A.B. from Harvard College and a J.D. from Yale Law School, and served as a law clerk to Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mr. Degnan, a former New Jersey Attorney General, joined the Port Authority in July 2014 and led the agency through a period of critical reform and transparency initiatives. During his tenure, he enhanced the ability for public comment at Board meetings by publishing agendas and resolutions a week before the meetings and moving public comment before Board votes on items. He strengthened the Port Authority's compliance with release of public documents and information. He also was a tireless advocate for the construction of a new Port Authority Bus Terminal to replace the aging facility on the west side of Manhattan, as well as a champion of the agency's record $32.2 billion revised 10-year capital plan that was approved earlier this year. (A copy of his resignation letter is posted on the Port Authority's website, under the press room section.

Mr. Foye joined the Port Authority in November 2011 at a time when the World Trade Center projects were nearing completion and the agency was preparing to embark on major new transportation capital investments, including a new Goethals Bridge, an elevated Bayonne Bridge roadway to allow for the passage of larger cargo ships, the redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport and a major overhaul of the George Washington Bridge. The Goethals and LaGuardia projects were done using the public-private partnership model, a financing mechanism championed by Mr. Foye. The new Goethals and elevated roadway of the Bayonne opened during Mr. Foye’s tenure, and the LaGuardia Airport project is well under way. Mr. Foye also helped steer the agency through the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, which ravaged key agency facilities.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Founded in 1921, 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. The agency's network of aviation, ground, rail, and seaport facilities is among the busiest in the country, supports more than 550,000 regional jobs, and generates more than $23 billion in annual wages and $80 billion in annual economic activity. The Port Authority also owns and manages the 16-acre World Trade Center site, where the 1,776-foot-tall One World Trade Center is now the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. The Port Authority receives no tax revenue from either the State of New York or New Jersey or from the City of New York. The agency raises the necessary funds for the improvement, construction or acquisition of its facilities primarily on its own credit. For more information, please visit