Port Authority should sell its real estate, agency chair says

John Degnan says the money should be used to fund $20B Hudson River tunnel

From left: One World Trade Center and John Degnan
From left: One World Trade Center and John Degnan

The chair of the Port Authority is once again bandying about the idea to sell the bi-state agency’s real estate holdings to fund transportation infrastructure projects, such as the $20 billion Hudson River rail tunnel.

John Degnan, chairperson of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said the lack of money to fund critical transportation infrastructure needs, including the rail tunnel under the Hudson River and improvements at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, has “catastrophic potential” for commuters and for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.

“The time has long since past for us to be building new buildings. We ought to sell any real estate we have that isn’t related to the transportation mission and leverage the money we get from that,” said Degnan, Bloomberg reported.

The agency says peak commuter demand will double by 2030 and the rail links to Manhattan for Amtrak and New Jersey Transit are at capacity, Bloomberg reported. The Port Authority has been looking to overhaul its bus terminal, but Degnan said the agency has “virtually zero dollars” for a new terminal in its $27.6 billion 10-year capital plan. A new bus terminal would cost up to $10 billion.

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Last September, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed to split the costs of the nine-mile rail tunnel. However, New Jersey might not have enough money to fund its half, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

In addition to the tunnel and terminal, the cost to overhaul La Guardia airport could reach $5.3 billion.

The Port Authority owns the World Trade Center site, which is 16 acres, and a 90 percent stake in One World Trade Center. It also owns land on the Queens waterfront, in Hoboken and an industrial site in the Bronx. [Bloomberg]Dusica Sue Malesevic