Public-private partnerships for a major bridge and airport-terminal renovation are highlights of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey’s plans for the next decade, which focus mainly on fixing infrastructure that, in some cases, is almost 90 years old.
Pat Foye, port authority executive director, told members of the Transportation Research Forum’s New York chapter in early September that the agency will retain authority over tolling on the Goethals Bridge, which will undergo a $1.5-billion rehabilitation and upgrade by a concessionaire team led by Australia’s Macquarie Group Ltd. and the contractor Kiewit Corp. The port authority will pay back the consortium over 40 years with annual payments that start at $60 million.
Foye told TRF that, due to the P3 approach, the port authority expects a 10% reduction in construction costs and a 10% reduction in subsequent bridge operations and maintenance. The agency’s careful approach includes the stipulation that “we don’t begin paying the team until construction is 70% complete,” Foye noted.
The agency also has prequalified four teams vying for the LaGuardia Airport central-terminal renovation, which includes expanding it to 1.2 million sq ft from 750,000 sq ft, Foye said. While related road infrastructure will increase to 4,400 linear ft from 3,000 linear ft, the number of gates will remain at 35, he said. “We will have the same number of gates, but they will be able to accommodate larger planes,” he said.
Foye bemoaned the lengthy environmental permitting process for projects and the restricted number of air slots imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration on New York City airports. “We could save $350 million a year in passenger fares if there were no more air slots,” he said. “Fifty percent of nationwide air delays originate from this region as a ripple effect.”
Foye emphasized the need to invest in next-gen satellite technology for air traffic control, noting that “the average New York City cab has more sophisticated GPS technology than an airplane.” The resulting delays will cost the national economy $79 billion over the next 15 years, he said.