The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey paid $500,000 to a noted architect for bridge designs that the agency didn't request and can't use, according to a published report.


The steel ribs of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub begin to fill out the shape of the structure designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Citing agency documents it obtained, The Record says the payment came after two authority commissioners with ties to Santiago Calatrava privately pressed agency staffers to incorporate the designs into construction of two bridges between New Jersey and New York.

The pair also helped provide the architect with insider access to pitch his plans, the newspaper said. But Port Authority engineers and lawyers quickly rejected the designs for the Goethals and Bayonne bridges as unworkable and unneeded.

The authority eventually paid Calatrava's firm $500,000 in July 2012. That's the maximum amount the agency can spend without a public vote by its governor-appointed commissioners, the newspaper reported, adding that the agency justified the work as helping to affirm its original plans for the Goethal's project.

"It gave us a chance to think about our own designs and decide, 'We don't agree with you and we're moving forward with our program,'" Peter Zipf, the Port Authority's chief engineer, told the newspaper. Zipf had requested authorization to make the payment and Executive Director Pat Foye signed off on it.

Calatrava, a Spanish architect known for his sleek sculptural designs, conceived the Port Authority's $4 billion World Trade Center transportation hub.

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