The executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said Thursday that he will step down after four years as the powerful bistate agency revamps its governance structure.

George Washington Bridge (John Moore, Getty Images)

In an email to employees, Patrick Foye said he would remain for the next four months to help the transition to new leadership.

Foye's position and the position of deputy executive director are scheduled to be eliminated when the Port Authority fills the newly created position of CEO.

That search has been underway for several months, and a recommendation was expected to be made by this month. But Port Authority Chairman John Degnan said at Thursday's board meeting that the search would be extended, and he cited the agency's recent involvement in a project to build a new Hudson River rail tunnel, part of Amtrak's Gateway program.

The Port Authority is to oversee the financing and execution of the project, expected to cost roughly $20 billion when other improvements to rail infrastructure are taken into account.

The Port Authority's search committee has recommended that the hunt for a CEO "be extended and broadened to meet future needs," Degnan said.

Foye has served as executive director since November 2011. During that time the Port Authority has been buffeted by the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal and state and federal investigations of its business practices.

The agency operates bridges and tunnels, ports, airports and the World Trade Center site.

Emails divulged during a New Jersey legislative investigation of the bridge-lane closings revealed that it was Foye who put a stop to the closing of access lanes to the bridge after four days in September 2013.

Former Port Authority officials Bill Baroni and David Wildstein later were criminally charged with orchestrating the lane closings, along with an aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, as political revenge against a local mayor. Authorities say they then concocted a story that the closures were part of a nonexistent traffic study.

Wildstein has pleaded guilty, and Baroni and the former aide, Bridget Kelly, are due to go on trial in April.

Foye's email praised the Port Authority for embarking on innovative public-private partnerships to fund massive improvements to LaGuardia Airport and the Goethals Bridge, recovering from widespread damage from Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and taking a leadership role on a project to build a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River.

Before his appointment to the Port Authority by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Foye served as Cuomo's deputy secretary for economic development.

 

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