17/09 – PANYNJ

The Port Authority of NY and NJ was established in 1921 through an interstate compact authorized by the U.S. Congress.  The 1,500-square-mile Port District is encompassed within a 25-mile radius of the Statue of Liberty, reaching north to just below the Tappan Zee Bridge.

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Initially formed to manage the region’s ports and freight rail, its mission soon evolved to facilitating automotive traffic with construction and management of the Goethals, Outerbridge and George Washington Bridges and the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels.  In the 50’s they took over the region’s airports. In the 70’s they built World Trade Center and took over PATH.

The Agency is funded by issuing bonds guaranteed by toll revenues and user fees.  They take no city-state tax revenues. They do accept federal funding.

The PA is governed by twelve Commissioners, appointed by the two Governors, with NJ traditionally appointing the Chairman and NY naming the Executive Director.  They are the targets of the advocacy, along with PA staff.

PANYNJ Talking Points

Failure to widen the GWB paths to support demand will cost the region hundreds of millions of dollars per year in lost tourism, sustainability, public health, affordability and resilience.

Widening the paths is consistent with guidance from multiple federal transport agencies.

Bike travel across the GWB meets the PA’s criteria for a successful strategy to reducing active and latent demand the midtown Bus Terminal, thereby extending the service life of the current and replacement facilities, estimated to $10 billion.

Should we lose a Hudson rail tunnel before a replacement is built, train traffic will be reduced 75% for two years.  In that instance an AASHTO-compliant GWB will support 10K cyclists per day like the Williamsburg Bridge will help offset the loss of the L subway.

The PA has the moral responsibility, the motive, means and a unique opportunity to take lead on sustainable modes of transport.

The rise of CO2 emissions over the last century tracks the 20-fold growth in car traffic across at PA facilities and 30-fold increase in air travel.

CO2_Emissions_Levels_Knorr

Beneficiaries of increased GWB bicycle mode share include working class, minority communities who’ve borne the brunt of bridge congestion, unsafe streets and degraded air quality for generations.

Half the PA’s assets are at risk to sea level rise and storm surge.  The rest are vulnerable to extreme weather events.

The PA has resolved to reduce greenhouse emissions 80% by 2050.  Reducing the GWB’s emissions profile by raising bicycle mode share of the is the most cost effective option.

Political Risk

170 organizations, businesses, communities and public officials from across the Port District represent an unprecedented coalition of support.

During comment period on its 10-Year Capital Plan, the PA received more feedback on the GWB paths than on the bus terminals and PATH combined, including from the NYC Mayor’s Office.

Regional transportation planning organizations NYMTC and NJTPA have both called for greater investment in cycling infrastructure.  The GWB would be the only facility to connect them.

Financial Risk

Not upgrading paths up to AASHTO exposes the PA to limitless liability arising from claims of accidents involving cyclists on the main spans – and limitless political fallout if it makes cyclists walk their bikes.

Widening the paths during recabling is far cheaper than a standalone job later.

Resources

PANYNJ-Wikipedia, http://tinyurl.com/yabe72le, PANYNJ website, http://www.panynj.gov, Empire on the Hudson, http://tinyurl.com/y9c6vdnh

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