Critical Transportation and Security Projects Included in $4.5 Billion Budget; Bridge and Tunnel Tolls, PATH Fares Unchanged
Delivering on its commitment to provide the critical transportation services and infrastructure that the people of New York and New Jersey depend on daily, the Port Authority Board of Commissioners today approved a $4.5 billion budget that will improve efficiency, reliability and security at its transportation facilities throughout the region. This is the first time in eight years that the agency has approved an operating budget and capital spending plan in December, allowing more effective management of operations throughout the coming year, as well as more effective planning of investments on transportation projects. The agency will continue major investments in the region’s transportation system, including projects critical to rebuilding in Lower Manhattan, progress on the development of a new passenger terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport and the purchase of new PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) rapid-transit rail system rail cars, without increasing PATH fares or the tolls at the agency’s bridges and tunnels.
More than two years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, activity levels at the region’s airports, bridges and tunnels have resulted in lower than expected revenues for the bistate agency. Expenses for security, insurance, and lease payments to New York City for John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports are higher. In addition, new and restored initiatives, such as AirTrain JFK and the reopened Exchange Place and temporary World Trade Center PATH stations have resulted in higher costs. Despite these financial constraints, the Port Authority has made necessary adjustments that keep with the agency’s priorities of maintaining safe and secure facilities, while continuing to advance the agency’s largest capital program in history to serve the region’s transportation needs well into the future.
New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey said, “\"The Meadowlands rail link project announced this week is a significant capital investment consistent with the agency\'s mission to facilitate the movement of people and the promotion of jobs and economic growth throughout the region. The Port Authority\'s 2004 budget includes an impressive capital program to reinvest in transportation infrastructure critical to the continued economic recovery in New Jersey and throughout the region.”
New York Governor George E. Pataki said, “The Port Authority continues to invest in safety and security programs and advancing work essential to rebuilding Lower Manhattan, while moving forward with other important transportation projects including the building of a new terminal at Kennedy airport, and an investment in new rail freight facilities at the Howland Hook Marine Terminal in Staten Island – which will return direct rail service to New York City for the first time in over a decade. These investments will have long-term economic benefits to all New Yorkers and to the entire region.”
Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, “For the first time in eight years, the Port Authority has approved a budget and capital plan early, which allows the agency to better plan for the coming year and effectively manage operations. The budget also continues the agency’s historic investments in rebuilding, restoring and enhancing critical transportation and economic development projects in New York and New Jersey, all without increasing PATH fares or tolls at the tunnels and bridges. Moving forward, we will continue to look for better and more efficient ways to operate our facilities and provide the kind of transportation services that our people deserve while planning more effectively for future investments that will strengthen the region’s economy.”
Port Authority Vice Chairman Charles A. Gargano said, “The Port Authority\'s 2004 budget includes a wide range of investments in regional infrastructure and economic development projects that are vitally important to the long-term success of the region\'s economy. This budget furthers the Port Authority\'s mission of investing in projects that create a stronger regional transportation system that attracts businesses and new jobs. From continuing historic investments at JFK to funds restoring Lower Manhattan as the financial capital of the world, we\'re delivering the resources necessary to build a stronger New York-New Jersey region. It is impressive that, despite decreased revenue expectations, the Port Authority will continue its massive capital program and maintain its facilities to the high standard for which the agency is known.”
Port Authority Executive Director Joseph J. Seymour said, “Because of the sluggish economy, activity at virtually all Port Authority facilities over the first 10 months of this year was below levels originally projected for 2003. The 2004 budget anticipates activity levels will also be lower than those projected a year ago. It is a testament to the leadership of the two Governors and the hard work of Port Authority staff that we are able to make the necessary adjustments in our expenditures in order to sustain one of the largest investment programs in the agency’s history. These investments will bring significant improvements throughout the region at the Port Authority’s airports, marine terminals, tunnels, bridges and rail facilities.”
The 2004 budget reflects additional costs associated with the extension of the lease with New York City for John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports. It also assumes the Port Authority will continue to receive uninterrupted payments from the net lease of the World Trade Center. The budget also incorporates higher legislatively mandated employer contributions to the New York State retirement systems.
Executive Director Seymour said, “Faced with the need to maintain an investment program that is essential to rebuilding the regional economy, we were confronted with the task of identifying reductions in other areas of the Port Authority’s budget. This is never an easy endeavor, but our goal has been to limit reductions to areas that will cause the least inconvenience to our customers.”
The $4.5 billion budget for 2004 includes $2.1 billion for operating expenses, $1.8 billion in gross capital expenditures and $568 million for debt service.
Major investments in the 2004-2008 capital plan include:
- Site preparation in anticipation of the start of construction of the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower and the design of the permanent World Trade Center Transportation Hub, including a permanent PATH terminal and pedestrian connections.
- Maintaining and enhancing security at Port Authority facilities across the region, such as enhanced surveillance systems, detection sensors, and closed-circuit television monitoring systems.
- Progressing with a new domestic passenger terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
- Making roadway, parking and airside improvements at Newark Liberty International Airport.
- Funding new passenger rail service to the New Jersey Meadowlands.
- Advancing environmental reviews to consider alternatives to replace the capacity constrained Goethals Bridge.
- Expanding high-speed “EZ-Flow” toll collection systems at additional Hudson River Crossings.
- Funding and transfer of property to create Brooklyn Bridge Park.
- Continuing deepening of shipping channels in New York harbor to accommodate larger, deep-draft container ships, including the start of projects to deepen channels to 50 feet.
- Constructing of new rail facilities at marine terminals in New York and New Jersey, including the start of construction of a new rail connection between the Staten Island Railroad and the CSX/Norfolk Southern Chemical Coast Line, to improve the movement of freight t