For North Jersey bus riders who commute daily to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, it’s a big deal. The bi-state agency’s unveiled a new, $3.5 billion plan to address its crumbling, outmoded 67-year-old terminal: build-in-place, on the same footprint, on the same building.
“The construction will be staged with a top down approach, that would first add a new fifth and sixth floor, as well as replace the existing floors with a state of the art facility,” said Steven Plate, chief of Major Capital Projects at the Port Authority. “In summary, the build-in-place option is feasible and warrants further consideration during the environmental process, along with the other viable options.”
Plate says consultants Parsons Brinckerhoff believe the build-in-place option is doable. It’s been done successfully at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, for example, among other projects. And, top-down construction and renovation can occur while the terminal remains open and operating, with some planning.
“We will concurrently initiate an assessment of an intermediate bus staging and storage facility needed to maintain current service. While construction phasing maintains critical bus operations, as well as vital pedestrian egress and access,” said Plate.
The plan ignores recent recommendations from the Regional Plan Association, to build a subsidiary bus terminal in the Javits Center basement. The Port Authority’s original proposal involved building a new facility on property obtained by eminent domain. The old bus terminal can’t handle modern heavier buses and it’s over capacity handling 260,000 daily riders. That traffic will increase 40 percent by 2040. Sen. Loretta Weinberg served as watchdog from the audience and gave a qualified thumbs up.
“It sounds like a very viable alternative. It sounds like it might be something, after we ask enough questions about it, that we could embrace,” said Weinberg.
Weinberg, who helped lead a legislative investigation into the Bridgegate scandal, also applauded the Port Authority’s new integrity policy, now under construction by its new executive director, Rick Cotton.
“Continuing to strengthen our posture on ethics and integrity issues is critical to continuing the process of restoring the reputation of the agency following Bridgegate. Regarding integrity, it is one strike and you’re out. No winks. No nods. Square corners,” said Cotton.
“It is the issues that are really important here. Transportation, accountability and integrity. That’s what it’s about,” said Weinberg.
The Port Authority put out requests for proposals on Monday for environmental analyses and engineering and architectural services, as it moves forward with this new concept for its bus terminal.