Port Authority reforms shouldn’t see NJ take a back seat to NY, officials say
As the New Jersey Senate Legislative Oversight Committee (SLO) continues to explore how to reform the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to make the bi-state agency more transparent and efficient, there is one thing everyone seems to agree on: New Jersey will no longer play second fiddle to New York.
“We just need parity with New York so that there’s an honest debate over priorities and that each state’s concerns are heard,” said state Sen. Bob Gordon (D-Fair Lawn), chairman of the SLO. “I think there is certainly real evidence that New Jersey has not had what I would call parity of influence.”
Following a recent public hearing, Gordon said the PATH extension from Wall Street to Newark Airport should be stopped immediately because $1.5 billion is being spent on a project for United Airlines that would service Wall Street executives, but would do nothing to benefit regular commuters who suffer with the crowded and delayed conditions that plague the roads, tunnels and terminals they rely on.
Others testifying before Gordon's committee agreed New Jersey needs to be an equal partner going forward when the Port Authority reforms are finalized.
“We really have to talk about New Jersey’s fair share and making sure that the investments the Port Authority is making are benefiting New Jersey as equally as they’re benefiting New York,” said Anthony Attanasio, executive director of the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association.
The Port Authority needs to get its house in order and that starts by getting its priorities right and putting the public’s resources where they are needed most, according to Gordon.
“We need to make sure that New Jersey residents, speaking specifically from New Jersey’s point of view have access to the jobs in New York created by the Port Authority,” said Janet Chernetz, senior New Jersey policy analyst for the Tri-State Transportation campaign.