The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is pressing ahead with a plan to extend PATH service to Newark Liberty International Airport.

The $1.7 billion project is included in the agency's 10-year capital expansion plan.

Newark officials are solidly backing the plan, which is expected to open economic development opportunities near the new PATH station. But the project does have its detractors, who believe other regional mass transit projects would have been more deserving of the investment dollars.

Steve Plate, chief of capital projects for the authority, said the plan is to extend PATH service 2.4 miles, from Newark Penn Station to the airport, where a new intermodal station will be constructed.

PATH service originates in lower Manhattan.

NJ Transit trains on the Northeast Corridor line now stop at the airport.

Plate stressed this will not only make it easier to get to and from the airport, it will also expand transportation options for other travelers as well.

“The region continues to grow — Jersey City, Hoboken, all the different communities — it’s amazing the amount of growth we’ve seen in the last few years,” he said.

“We need to continue to supply that major artery of transportation that the Port Authority provides and help relieve some of the congestion of some of the other (train) lines. We’re all one family here trying to move these people.”

He pointed out the project, once completed, will allow people to use mass transit and not have to drive their cars to get to the airport and many points around the Newark, Jersey City and Hoboken areas.

Courtesy of PANYNJ

Construction is tentatively projected to begin in 2020, with a planned completion in 2026.

Plate said an informational meeting about the PATH extension project will take place Thursday, Nov. 30 from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Garden State ballroom at the Hilton Newark Penn Station

Critics include the Tri-State Transportation Campaign don’t favor it.

“We believe the Port Authority has more important priorities than extending PATH”, said Vincent Pellecchia, associate director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.

“Two projects that are much more important for New Jersey are the Gateway Project and a new Port Authority bus terminal.”

The Gateway Project, which called for construction of a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River, was rejected in 2010 by Gov. Chris Christie, who was upset the deal called for New Jersey to spend billions and absorb any cost over-runs on the project while the state of New York was not obligated to spend a dime.

Pellecchia said constructing a new Hudson River rail tunnel would help to move more travelers than the PATH extension, and that should be the focus of the Port Authority right now.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com