Press Release Article
PORT AUTHORITY TO LAUNCH $1.6 BILLION, FIVE-YEAR CAPITAL PLAN TO UPGRADE EXISTING CROSSINGS AND IMPROVE TRAFFIC FLOW
Date: Mar 21, 2001
Press Release Number: 41-2001
A $1.6 billion, five-year capital plan for the Port Authority\'s tunnels, bridges and terminals is being launched in 2001 to help manage the continuing record traffic growth in the region and ensure the agency\'s facilities remain in a state of good repair.
The ambitious spending plan will be financed through the toll rate changes that will take effect at 3 a.m. on Sunday, March 25. The new cash toll for cars will be $6 and the cash rate for trucks is $6 and up. Motorists who use E-ZPass can receive an array of discounts, including significant discounts for off-peak travel.
\"Last year, a record 252 million vehicles used our six bistate crossings and we project continued traffic growth,\" said Ken Philmus, the Port Authority\'s Director of Tunnels, Bridges and Terminals. \"Given the role that the crossings play in ensuring effective mobility within and through the region, there is a critical need to maintain these facilities in a state of good repair, add more capacity where possible, and implement new technologies that can help us better manage our rising traffic levels as efficiently as we can. Our comprehensive improvement plan will ensure that we continue to provide a high level of service at all of our world-class tunnels, bridges and terminals.\"
Some of the projects in the Tunnels, Bridges and Terminals Capital Plan are:
· A parallel bridge along the existing 70-year-old Goethals Bridge to provide a modern crossing in the southern corridor. An environmental impact study done several years ago will be updated this year, and as always, The Port Authority will not proceed with the project unless it has the support of the governors of New York and New Jersey, and the local communities on Staten Island and in New Jersey. Lane widths on the new crossing would be increased by 2 feet to meet today\'s standards, and shoulders also could safely accommodate today\'s larger vehicles. The new bridge design also could accommodate potential transit and high-occupancy vehicle programs.
· A project to build a 2,500-foot ramp to connect the Palisades Interstate Parkway to the lower level of the George Washington Bridge. Currently, only a two-lane ramp connects the toll plaza to the bridge\'s upper level.
· A project to install electronic traffic management technology at the Holland and Lincoln tunnels as well as the Goethals and Bayonne bridges and the Outerbridge Crossing. The technology mirrors the system in place at the George Washington Bridge, which quickly detects accidents, allowing faster response by emergency crews and warnings to motorists so that alternate routes can be taken. The technology would be thoroughly integrated with other regional transportation agencies.
· A program to redesign toll plazas to accommodate the expected growth in E-ZPass transactions. Where possible, toll plazas and approach roadways will be redesigned to encourage non-stop toll collection from E-ZPass-equipped vehicles, minimizing merging traffic and promoting free-flowing conditions.
· In conjunction with a private developer, the public areas of the Port Authority Bus Terminal\'s North Wing will be redeveloped by adding new bus gates to expand the Terminals\' overall capacity. The project includes the construction of a new office tower above the North Wing, and new retail and public services in the existing North Wing.
· A project to upgrade the South Wing of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. This plan includes improvements that will make it easier for customers to get around. New amenities planned for the terminal include information kiosks.
· A project to upgrade the fixed message signs at the George Washington Bridge.
· Two projects to rehabilitate the decks of the Bayonne Bridge and Outerbridge Crossing. The projects include replacement of the decks, rehabilitation of the support steel and side walls, and sidewalk replacement.
· Two projects to paint the two towers and the underside of the upper level of the George Washington Bridge. The projects involve removing the existing paint and repainting approximately 2.5 million square feet.