Press Release Article

PORT AUTHORITY APPROVES $4.6 BILLION BUDGET -Record Projected Revenues Will Fuel Record Construction Program; Traffic Volumes at Tunnels, Bridges and Airports at All-Time High

Date: Feb 22, 2001
Press Release Number: 23-2001

Beginning its most ambitious construction program ever, the Port Authority Board of Commissioners today approved a $4.6 billion budget for 2001 that begins funding for a five-year, $9.5-billion capital investment program in bridges and tunnels, the PATH system, airports, and other facilities throughout the New York-New Jersey region.
The budget includes a record $2.05 billion of capital spending, the first installment on a multi-year capital program that will include:

· investments at the bridges and tunnels to improve traffic flow and guarantee a state of good repair. · the purchase of new PATH cars and a new switch and signal system. · the transformation of Kennedy, Newark and LaGuardia into modern, customer-friendly airports for the 21st Century, including construction of new terminals and completion of new airport rail links. · creation of deeper shipping channels and more modern marine terminals on both sides of the harbor, capable of handling twice as much cargo as at present.

Port Authority Chairman Lewis M. Eisenberg said, \"At the direction of the Governors of New York and New Jersey, the Port Authority has over the last few years streamlined and refocused its staff. It is now prepared to take on the most ambitious agenda in its 80-year history. The $4.6 billion budget approved today will allow us to begin building transportation improvements that will reduce congestion for millions of commuters and air travelers, and expedite the flow of international trade, allowing our region to continue to grow and prosper.\"

Vice Chairman Charles A. Gargano said, \"The Port Authority\'s capital investments will aid the region\'s economy in two ways: they will provide the new and improved transportation systems that are the basis of economic expansion. Equally important, they will create more than 15,000 jobs for regional residents, and $2.3 billion in economic activity, to keep our regional economy expanding.\"

Port Authority Executive Director Robert E. Boyle said, \"The Port Authority\'s 2001 budget provides funds to improve the commutes of millions of New York and New Jersey residents, as well as the airports and seaports on which our region depends.\"

Major capital investments and customer service improvements for 2001 include:

· at Newark International Airport, a one-mile extension of the airport\'s existing monorail system to the Northeast Corridor rail lines, connecting to trains operated by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit. Service linking Newark Airport to the Northeast Corridor is scheduled to begin later this year. · at John F. Kennedy International Airport, continuing construction of the JFK Airtrain system, which will connect the airport to midtown Manhattan via a reliable, elevated light-rail train in less than 45 minutes. The first branch, connecting the airport to the Howard Beach subway station, is scheduled to open in 2002. · new airport parking structures and use of E-ZPass for parking fare collection. · an expanded Customer Service Representative program at the airports, to better assist airport passengers. · improved roadways, taxiways and access roadways at the three airports. · providing direct access from the Palisades Interstate Parkway to the George Washington Bridge lower level. · extending Intelligent Transportation System technology to the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels. · a host of PATH capital improvements including: rehabilitation of existing PATH cars, planning and design work for the purchase of new PATH cars, a state-of-the-art automatic train control system, and station modernization. · promoting greater use of E-ZPass through more dedicated E-ZPass lanes and congestion pricing. · major infrastructure improvements at bridges and tunnels, including roadway deck rehabilitation at the Outerbridge Crossing and completion of a new coat of paint for the George Washington Bridge. · improvements to signs and communications programs at tunnels and bridges. · building the \"Chemical Coast\" rail link in New Jersey to connect the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island to the national rail system. · providing major funding for a new Brooklyn Bridge waterfront park. · expansion of marine terminals, including Howland Hook and Elizabeth, and development of new auto marine terminals. · continued channel deepening to accommodate larger container vessels.

\"Last year,\" Mr. Boyle said, \"the Port Authority invested over $1.2 billion on capital improvements, breaking the agency\'s previous record. This year the capital portion of the budget breaks the record again, with over $2 billion in planned expenditures. And that is just the first installment on a five-year, $9.5 billion program that will add capacity to congested bridges, tunnels and the PATH system, continue the massive airport redevelopment projects, and modernize the port.

\"This massive investment in regional transportation facilities has occurred even while we have streamlined our operations and increased our management efficiency. The agency\'s authorized staffing is at its lowest level since the 1960s,\" Mr. Boyle noted.

\"Another measure of the organization\'s efficiency is its net revenues, which have strengthened every year for the last six years. We will need those revenues to finance the largest long-term capital program in the agency\'s history. These projects will be funded primarily through bonds backed by agency revenues. Fundamentally, it is the Port Authority\'s healthy bottom line that allows it to build for the region in this unprecedented way.\"

The $4.609 billion budget consists of $1.901 billion in operating expenses, $2.055 billion in gross capital expenditures, $575 million in debt service charged to operations and $78 million for other expenditures.

2000 FINANCIAL RESULTS With a strong regional economy generating record traffic at bridges, tunnels, and airports, the Port Authority achieved record gross revenues of $2.6 billion in 2000, according to materials distributed with the agency\'s annual budget. The agency\'s net revenues available for debt service and reserves totaled approximately $1 billion, and its net income was $254 million, both of which are record amounts. Current reserves now total $1.675 billion, another all-time high.

\"The Port Authority\'s net revenues, combined with funds raised by the sale of Port Authority bonds, helped support some $1.2 billion in capital expenditures in 2000, the most the agency has ever invested in a single year,\" Mr. Boyle said. BRIDGES, TUNNELS AND PATH BREAK VOLUME RECORDS IN 2000 The Port Authority\'s two trans-Hudson tunnels and four bridges reported record traffic volume in 2000, with more than 126 million eastbound vehicles using the six crossings, a 1.6 percent increase over 1999 traffic levels and the sixth consecutive year that the Port Authority has recorded record traffic levels at its crossings.

Despite the increase in vehicles using the crossings, traffic delays did not grow at the same rate, due to the increasing popularity of E-ZPass. In 2000, 59 percent of all Port Authority customers used E-ZPass, up from 50 percent in 1999 and 38 percent in 1997, the year that E-ZPass was first installed at the Port Authority\'s bridges and tunnels.

In 2000, 73.4 million passengers used PATH, an increase of 10 percent over 1999 levels. Average weekday PATH ridership has grown to 254,967, up 9.7 percent over 1999. The increases have been attributed to a strong economy, increased development along the Hudson River in Hoboken and Jersey City, and strong growth in weekend ridership, up 6.5 percent on Saturdays and 9.7 percent on Sundays.

AIRPORT TRAFFIC ALSO AT RECORD LEVELS The Port Authority\'s commercial airports also posted a record year for passenger traffic in 2000, with 92.6 million passengers traveling through John F. Kennedy International, Newark International and LaGuardia airports -- an increase of 3.3 million passengers over 1999.


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