POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Calls for NJ Commissioners to Stall Port Authority Capital Plan Without Bus Terminal

By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent

Senate President Steve Sweeney didn’t mince words.

“We’re here today to continue to call on New York to stop messing around. To stop jerking us around. To move forward quickly with the study, so we can put the $70 million in so we can get the study done, so we can move forward on the bus terminal,” he said.

The Port Authority‘s $32 billion capital plan includes $3.5 billion over 10 years for a new bus terminal in midtown Manhattan.

The full Port Authority board is supposed to vote on that capital plan this Thursday.

But Sweeney and his colleagues are urging the five New Jersey appointees on the board to stall the capital plan vote unless the New York commissioners agree to fast track the bus terminal.

They say the New York side is dragging its feet. They point to a letter from New York City’s deputy mayor to the New Jersey side, a letter first obtained by POLITICO, that calls for a far more detailed set of environmental impact studies.

“It is important to note that this is just the least effort by Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo, his appointees and his allies to delay and perhaps kill plans for a new bus terminal,” said Sen. Bob Gordon.

New Jersey officials want to see the bus terminal modernized or replaced, with 50 percent added capacity.

The New York side worries such a project would tie up the neighborhood for years.

In his letter, Deputy New York Mayor Anthony Shorris says, “We believe the Port should further study a full range of rail alternatives that might bring additional rail service to growing parts of New Jersey and permit future bus terminal needs to be addressed without adversely affecting the surrounding area.”

Senate Democrats see the bus terminal as a vital resource for the entire region.

“We are inter-connected, one way or another, and the commissioners of New Jersey when they come to work on Thursday, I think they need to realize that we need to continue that inter-connection. And by making this bus terminal the number one priority, it is a benefit to the state of New Jersey and at the same time a benefit to Manhattan,” said Sen. Paul Sarlo.

On board with this stance are Senate Republicans and minority leader Tom Kean.

“Unfortunately New York always seems to be moving the goal posts and adding new things on the agendas, and so I think we having unified commissioners and hopefully say let’s focus on the region as a whole and the transportation needs of the commuters at an affordable price together and I think if we can do that, I think we’ll have great success,” Kean said.

The New Jerseyans say a $70 million study is what’s needed, and not the massive capacity study the New York side is calling for. We’re delivering a message, said one, to Cuomo and the city — this is going to happen, guys, get with the program.