By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
“I want to thank you all for joining us today for another key milestone in the Port Authority’s ongoing effort to return to its core transportation mission,” said John Degnan, chairman of the Port Authority.
Degnan and Gov. Christie kicked off the Terminal A modernization project. The current terminal A will be demolished and a new one constructed next to it.
Degnan called it a return to the golden age of air travel; Christie called it a return to the Port Authority’s core mission.
“For better or for worse, the Port Authority got off on a scheme for a while as a property landlord in Lower Manhattan, and we still will be for some time. I hope that in the future we’ll get out of that business so that all the money we collect at the Port Authority can be pushed back into meeting our transportation mission,” Christie said.
The new Goethals Bridge, the new Bayonne Bridge, the Gateway Tunnel Project, a new Port Authority Bus Terminal, the George Washington Bus Terminal and LaGuardia Airport renovations are all part of this new vision.
The new terminal A will cost $2.4 billion and take five years to build.
“This is a huge deal for the airport and for the future of Newark Airport. It’s really the cornerstone of redevelopment for the entire airport. Most of our infrastructure is circa 1970-73 time frame. Much of it is in need of repair. Terminal A itself hasn’t had a major renovation yet, so by being able to replace terminal A on the new site, we can do it in a way that’s not going to impact the day to day customer experience. And then in 2022 they will be in a new terminal,” said Catherine Cronin, EWR redevelopment program director for the Port Authority.
“Never an easy feat to keep this building running while you’re building another one and then try to bring that seamlessly together, but that’s the thing we expect from the professionals that we have at the Port Authority,” Christie said.
The governor pitched this airport renovation as part of a total makeover of the region’s transportation system. And to hear him tell it, the Trump administration will reverse course on the Gateway Tunnel project and fully fund the federal share.
“Had a very good conversation just last week with Secretary [Elaine] Chao, the secretary of transportation, and I absolutely believe that we will be partnering with the federal government and the state of New York to build the Gateway Tunnel and that there won’t be any delays in terms of our current time frame. And so I have confidence in the fact that the secretary and the president are going to make that happen,” said Christie.
Christie was asked if he still has confidence in Robert Mueller, the Russia investigation special counsel.
“Bob Mueller still have my confidence? I have no reason not to have confidence in Bob Mueller,” Christie replied.
And he was asked how important is Muller’s investigation.
“Really important. As I’ve said right from the beginning, I didn’t think a special prosecutor was necessary. I want to remind everybody that these special prosecutors things tend to go off on different kinds of tangents. Remember that Bill Clinton hadn’t met Monica Lewinsky until 19 months after the Whitewater special prosecutor was appointed. So when I say I’m concerned about special prosecutors, it’s not a partisan thing. It’s that we have a history of special prosecutors running amok,” he said.
That was not how Christie felt a year ago when he called for an investigation of the Clinton Foundation and a special prosecutor to look into Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s Clinton connections. But times change.