Tag Archives: Port Authority

Port in a storm for new Port Authority chief Rick Cotton

At 8 a.m. Monday, the watch changes and Rick Cotton is piped aboard as the new executive director of the Port Authority. Let’s hope he’s wearing a life jacket.

Serving as Gov. Cuomo’s special counsel for interagency initiatives for the last two-and-a-half years after a long private career, Cotton is a guy who’s gotten some big things done.

He helped Cuomo get the Second Ave. subway and new Tappan Zee Bridge done.

He helped Cuomo get the transformation of the Farley General Post Office into the Moynihan Station and a new Penn Station started after 25 years of dithering.

He helped Cuomo get the overhauls of LaGuardia and JFK airports, and the expansion of the Javits Center, underway.

But all those jobs look easy compared next to the task of piloting the $5-billion-a-year agency founded in 1921 as the Port of New York Authority. The problem is that the decidedly junior partner in terms of population and economic strength, New Jersey, has half the board votes and each governor has a veto over all board actions.

 

 

 

That made it tough for the outgoing executive director, Pat Foye, who had to deal with three actual criminals, including Chairman David Samson, installed by Chris Christie. Even after Samson and Bridgegate felons Bill Baroni and David Wildstein were hauled away thanks to Foye’s whistleblowing, the replacement as chairman was the imperious John Degnan, who tried to blackmail New York to accept an overly expensive and elaborate bus terminal on the West Side.

Didn’t they learn anything from the overly expensive and elaborate $4.4 billion boondoggle that was the white marble PATH station at the World Trade Center, another Jersey special foisted on New York?

Besides watching the Port’s end of the Queens airport rehabs, Cotton must engage with our cross-Hudson friends on NJ Transit and Amtrak’s overly expensive and elaborate Gateway project to dig new passenger rail tubes into Penn.

New tunnels are imperative to help trains move through what are now choked arteries between Jersey and Manhattan. But as currently planned, Gateway is a mess.

Once priced at $20 billion, with $10 billion pledged from the feds and $5 billion per state, estimates have ballooned to $30 billion even as D.C. has seemingly reneged on its $10 billion share.

The answer is to push ahead on digging the tubes but otherwise cut Gateway way back. Scrap a plan to tear down a huge swath of Midtown for a new Penn South terminal costing $6 billion. And raise one instead of two new bridges over the Hackensack River, which will save another $2 billion. Maybe a smaller, smarter, cheaper and quicker Gateway can attract the feds.

Perhaps an even harder lift for Cotton will be to advance a rail freight tunnel from Jersey to Brooklyn. That was the raison d’être for the Port’s birth in 1921. To his great credit, Cuomo wants the tunnel to relieve the roads from punishing truck traffic and bring freight to New York with the same efficiency it gets most everywhere else in America.

New York should be as pushy when it comes to trimming back Gateway and boring the freight tunnel as Jersey has been over the years.

It’s long past time for the senior Port partner to start getting its way.

Musical Chairs at NY City Transit Authority and Port Authority

NY Post

A shakeup in the highest echelons of the Port Authority reached all the way to the MTA on Tuesday — with the PA’s chief switching over to the transit agency.

Port Authority Executive Director and Bridgegate figure Pat Foye stepped down from his post at the PA in the morning to assume his new role as MTA president, sources said.

Foye — who famously ordered the lanes at the George Washington Bridge to be reopened after they were closed for political reasons in the Bridgegate scandal — will report to MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota, sources said.

Rider advocates said they believe Foye is a good pick for the job at the agency, which has spiraled into chaos because of increasing derailments and delays caused by aging infrastructure.

“Gov. Cuomo has put in place an experienced team,” said Nick Sifuentes, deputy director of the Riders Alliance. “Now they need him to guarantee the sustainable funding source they need to make good on their promise to fix our subways.”

Following Foye out the door at the PA on Tuesday was the agency’s chairman, John Degnan, who had been clashing with Cuomo recently, sources said. Degnan was not given a new position anywhere, at least not yet.

Degnan was a Gov. Christie appointee to the bi-state agency. Foye was a Cuomo guy, as is Lhota.

The departure of both Degnan and Foye from the PA provides a new slate at the agency that both governors can live with, according to sources.

Gov. Cuomo’s trusted special counsel, Rick Cotton, will replace Foye, while former New Jersey legislator Kevin O’Toole is replacing Degnan, officials said.

Cotton and O’Toole will resume the search for a Port Authority CEO and will oversee major projects, including the new La Guardia Airport, renovations at JFK and plans for a new bus terminal, officials said.The departure of both Degnan and Foye from the PA provides a new slate at the agency that both governors can live with, according to sources.

Gov. Cuomo’s trusted special counsel, Rick Cotton, will replace Foye, while former New Jersey legislator Kevin O’Toole is replacing Degnan, officials said.

Cotton and O’Toole will resume the search for a Port Authority CEO and will oversee major projects, including the new La Guardia Airport, renovations at JFK and plans for a new bus terminal, officials said.

Sources said Degnan was pushed out for criticizing the mayor over the search for a new CEO. Last month, Degnan told a media outlet that the governor wouldn’t approve anyone he found for a new CEO position. He had also called the CEO search a failure, while Cuomo prides himself on getting the job done, no matter how difficult a task, sources said.

Meanwhile, the Cuomo administration has repeatedly blasted Degnan for failing to institute oversight at the beleaguered agency.

Foye had expressed a desire to leave the Port Authority for more than a year but stayed on to see Degnan out, sources said.

“Foye wasn’t going to leave until Degnan did,” a source noted.

In addition to Foye’s new post at the MTA, longtime transit-agency honcho Ronnie Hakim will be named managing director of operations, sources said. She will report to Lhota, who in June reclaimed the role he left in 2013

PATH to install PTC on 33rd Street Line

The Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH) rail system’s weekend service on the 33rd Street line in Manhattan will be suspended from early August through December to complete a project that includes installation of positive train control (PTC), the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) announced late last week.

The 33rd Street Line PATH project is part of a multiphase plan to improve the system and provide more frequent rush-hour service, PANYNJ officials said in a press release.

At the center of the project is installation of PTC. In addition to safety improvements, the work is designed to improve the service’s reliability, as well as lay the groundwork for increased capacity in the future, they said.

The upcoming weekend closures will impact the Christopher, 9th,14th, 23rd and 33rd street stations.

Service on the line will be suspended from 12:01 a.m. on Saturdays until 5 a.m. on Mondays. Regular weekend service will continue on the Newark-World Trade Center (WTC) line between Journal Square and Hoboken, officials said.

Direct service between Hoboken and WTC, normally unavailable on weekends, also will be introduced.

For more information on commuter railroads’ and Class Is’ ongoing efforts to implement PTC, read this article from Progressive Railroading’s June issue.

World Trade Center transportation hub to open in March

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) announced yesterday that the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub Oculus will fully open in Lower Manhattan the first week in March.

The hub replaces the World Trade Center terminal that was destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on New York City. Although PATH trains have been using the new transportation hub since May of last year, the facility has not been fully operational.

The hub’s centerpiece is the Oculus, a soaring wing-shaped steel structure designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. When it opens, the hub will enhance the commute of 100,000 weekday PATH commuters who travel through the station with quicker access to the Wall Street area and other destinations north and south of the site, PANYNJ officials said in a press release.

In addition to access to PATH trains, the hub will provide travelers with a seamless connection to 11 New York City subway lines and the East River Ferries, they said.

PATH commuters will be able to take new underground passageways to One World Trade Center, 4 World Trade Center, the corner of Liberty and Church streets a few blocks from Wall Street and to Vesey Street on the site’s northern edge.

Retail shops, which will be located throughout the Oculus and adjoining passageways, will open in phases starting in spring.

“More than a decade ago, planners envisioned a rebuilt transportation complex on the World Trade Center site that would provide critical links between various modes of transit for the first time. By later this year, this vision will become reality,” said PANYNJ Chairman John Degnan. “When the Oculus opens, commuters, visitors and residents of Lower Manhattan will have a greatly enhanced commute to and from the site for the first time.”

Gov. Cuomo proposes $4.9 billion plan to harden New York’s transportation network against future storms

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently unveiled a coordinated transportation resiliency program designed to help prepare the state for future emergencies, reduce the impact of future storms on vital transportation infrastructure, and improve the long-term reliability and resiliency of the public transportation network.

The governor plans to submit the plan to the Federal Transit Administration, which has made $3 billion available for resiliency programs in regions affected by Hurricane Sandy. The New York plan includes projects worth $4.9 billion. The state’s applications exceed available federal funding because the projects represent the extensive need New York faces in trying to protect its vital infrastructure, said Cuomo in a press release.

At Cuomo’s direction, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Moynihan Station Development Corp. jointly prepared a plan that considered transportation needs and priorities on a regional level to protect against stronger and more frequent storms in the future.

A key element of the plan is protecting commuter-rail access into Manhattan, by hardening Penn Station’s existing rail service and providing alternate service to Penn Station for MTA Metro-North Railroad riders in the event of a single-point failure along its network through upper Manhattan and the Bronx.

“Our response to the billions in damage Superstorm Sandy caused our transportation system is to build back stronger, better and smarter than before,” Cuomo said in a press release. “These projects build on the state’s commitment to transforming our infrastructure, transportation networks, energy supply, and coastal protections to better protect New Yorkers from future disaster.”

The Penn Station access would give Metro-North an alternate means to enter midtown Manhattan if its four-track mainline through the Bronx or the Harlem River Lift Bridge were disrupted for a prolonged period. An outage would halt commuter-rail service in New York’s northern suburbs and southeastern Connecticut, with a devastating impact on the regional economy, said Cuomo. The project’s estimated cost is $516 million, of which $387 million is eligible for federal funding.

The River-to-River Rail Resiliency project  would protect the East River Tunnels and Penn Station, which are used by MTA Long Island Rail Road, Amtrak and New Jersey Transit. The project’s estimated cost is $321 million, of which $241 million is eligible for federal funding.

The plan also proposes to harden other infrastructure and improve network resiliency for all forms of transit in New York. Other projects would mitigate flood risk at MTA New York City Transit subway yards and bus depots by hardening structures; seal entrances to subway tunnels and ventilation plants; and make the World Trade Center site more resilient against water intrusion. 

In addition, the governor’s plan includes projects designed to improve the PATH rapid transit line through Manhattan, the John F. Kennedy International Airport AirTrain station at Howard Beach in Queens and the Staten Island Railway.