Port Authority Commissioners Want More Options for New Bus Depot

Port Authority Chairman John Degnan took aim at the findings of his agency’s study of options for a new Manhattan bus terminal, saying planners ignored a suggestion he made involving a property transfer with a New York developer.

Degnan’s criticism at a Port Authority of New York & New Jersey board meeting Thursday in Jersey City came after the agency’s planning director and an executive from the Stockholm-based builder Skanska AB spent 20 minutes outlining five options to replace the 65-year-old terminal. Degnan’s disapproval was echoed by Commissioner Kenneth Lipper, who said the estimated replacement costs of $8 billion to $10.5 billion were too high and a timetable of as long as 15 years too lengthy.

“I want the same level of commitment at the Port Authority to a new Port Authority bus terminal that infused this agency after 9-11,” said Degnan, who was appointed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The agency manages the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan, which was targeted in the 2001 terrorist attack.

Port Authority planners have spent 18 months narrowing a menu of options to rebuild the neglected bus terminal near Times Square. More than 230,000 commuters traverse the facility daily, a number that’s expected to grow to 330,000 in 10 years as office and residential development on the far West Side of Manhattan is completed.

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Degnan declined to offer specifics about his discussions with the developer, saying talks were at an early stage. The transfer would free up land to aid terminal reconstruction, he said. He shared Lipper’s concern about whether planners “took a fine enough pencil” to the cost estimates.

Degnan proposed creating a subcommittee to consider other ideas, including building a terminal in New Jersey. He set a deadline of year-end for the agency to come up with a plan.

The chairman also announced that the Port Authority would host a summit at its new One World Trade Center headquarters on May 7 on how to expand trans-Hudson transportation capacity. Representatives of Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will attend.

Trans-Hudson commuter demand will increase by 50 percent over the next 25 years and the current infrastructure is insufficient. In 2010, Christie killed a plan to build a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River because of what he said were potential cost overruns. The Access to the Region’s Core, aimed at doubling train capacity to New York, had been in planning since 1995.

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