Date: Sep 20, 2001
Press Release Number: 135-2001
The Port Authority Board of Commissioners today approved a resolution declaring that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey “remains strong and more determined than ever,” and pledging to use the full resources of the regional organization to restore damage done by last week’s terrorist attacks and to meet the region’s present and future transportation needs.
“Governor Pataki and Acting Governor DiFrancesco have given us a clear mandate,” said Chairman Lewis M. Eisenberg. “The Port Authority’s financial resources and expertise are undiminished, and its role as a regional economic engine has become more important than ever. The Port Authority must play a vital role in the days ahead. Staff is directed to use every resource at their disposal to play that role in both New York and New Jersey.
“We are unbowed,” said Chairman Eisenberg. “We emerged from the catastrophe of September 11 with our will and our resources strong and intact, and we are more determined than ever. Cherished friends and colleagues are missing, including Executive Director Neil D. Levin, and we still pray for good news. But, in the spirit of the many heroes from the Port Authority and countless other organizations, we will continue to work around the clock to give residents of the region the transportation network they need and deserve. The Board and I extend our deep admiration to Port Authority staff for their dedication in the face of this catastrophe. And we extend special sympathy to Port Authority Police, who lost so many members in their efforts to rescue members of the public.”
“Those unaccounted for include, unfortunately, Executive Director Levin, a man of extraordinary ability and commitment to public service who in a few short months infused the Port Authority with his vision and energy. On a personal level, I have known Neil for many years. I am proud to call him a friend. He is a person of accomplishments and potential that very few can match.
“We will grieve for Neil, for other Port Authority colleagues – both civilian employees and the men and women of the Port Authority Police Department, which has shown such dedication and heroism – and for the thousands of others who are missing. We will comfort and care for the families of those who are unaccounted for.
The Board, at the direction of Governor Pataki and Acting Governor DiFrancesco, approved a resolution directing staff “to work with other transportation agencies throughout the bistate region to see that emergency transportation needs are met, that all possible steps are taken to ease and address the congestion and delays resulting from the World Trade Center catastrophe, and that transportation services are restored to normal as quickly as possible.”
In addition, the resolution directed staff to move as quickly as possible to deliver elements of the agency’s recently approved $9.5 billion capital plan.
“In this time of crisis, Port Authority spending on capital improvements will be more important than ever,” said Chairman Eisenberg. “It will create construction jobs, and help create many more permanent jobs by improving the flow of people and goods through the region.”
The resolution also expressed “an almost unbearable sense of sorrow and loss” because of Port Authority staff that are still missing. In addition to Executive Director Levin, the missing include Daniel Bergstein, the Secretary of the Port Authority; Port Authority Police Superintendent Fred Morrone; Chief James Romito; Inspector Anthony Infante, and Capt. Kathy Mazza.
The Board also authorized appropriate actions related to the relocation of offices formerly located at the World Trade Center.
Vice Chairman Charles A. Gargano said, “All of us grieve deeply for our fallen colleagues and friends, including Neil Levin, whose leadership and guidance of the Port Authority was tragically cut short. His contributions to the people of the State of New York are immeasurable. But we are determined to continue their legacy and strengthen this invaluable institution. The Port Authority is in a unique position in this time of emergency to use our formidable resources to partner with other agencies and mobilize the resurgence of downtown redevelopment.”
Interim Executive Director Ronald Shiftan said, “Our facilities are fully staffed, secure and operational. And we are bringing to bear the enormous resources of the $9.5 billion, five-year capital plan approved earlier this year by the Board, which will lead to $14 billion in spending in both states and to construction and permanent jobs. The importance of this capital plan cannot be overestimated – especially in these difficult times.
“It will provide money to improve our bridges, tunnels and PATH transit line. The extensive program of investments at JFK, Newark and LaGuardia airports will be carefully re-evaluated in light of whatever new security requirements may be enacted by federal authorities. Other elements of the capital plan, such as the program to deepen channels to our maritime ports so they can receive the new generation of super-container ships, will also proceed.”
Mr. Shiftan also thanked travelers for their patience at this time of national crisis, and warned that full restoration of services will take time.
“The Holland Tunnel is undamaged and open to emergency vehicles. But it cannot be reopened to the public until City, State and regional transportation agencies have completed a comprehensive downtown transportation plan, to assure that traffic from the tunnel can be accommodated. For now we must keep the tunnel closed to the public – at the direction of federal, state and city authorities — to support rescue and recovery efforts.”