The Port Authority Monday closed off the George Washington Bridge Bus Station for a yearlong $183 million renovation local lawmakers hope will include community space.
Closing the station, which handles New Jersey Transit, city buses and vehicles from private bus firms, now means going to the top of the three-level station via a temporary trailer and staircase at Fort Washington Avenue and 179th Street. Riders taking the A train from the station, for the 175th Street stop, now must use an entrance two blocks away. Heavy area traffic will be studied during the project.
"When folks ... get out here and they see the bridge, we must have a state-of-the-art terminal," said state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who represents northern Manhattan.
The PA aims to improve bus operations on top of the new amenities for travelers, such as a passenger pavilion and 120,000 square feet of retail space. The station, built in 1963, handles 4.7 million passengers and 327,000 bus trips a year.
Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez said the renovations will give local business owners a spot to open shop in a facility that will get 120,000 square feet of new retail space that will also make room for community use. He said that 10 out of about 20 businesses in the remodeled station will be from the area and that he has asked to get 10,000 square feet of community space set aside.
"We will see important tenants coming to our community," said Rodriguez, of upper Manhattan. "But also in this bus terminal we hope to see more than 10 local business owners with a great opportunity to establish themselves here."
The PA, doing the renovations in partnership with private developers, said there would be 324 jobs available with $19 million in payroll wages expected. The agency also projects a $31.7 million a year boost to the local economy.