Port Authority eyes three rebuild options


BY GABE HERMAN | The Port Authority has taken a step toward a replacement plan for its aging bus terminal, outlining three possible options in Midtown.

On May 23, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey released a scoping document, kicking off a formal environmental review process and a 120-day period for public comments from residents and officials. This will include two public hearings each in New York and New Jersey. Specific dates for those have not been set, but they will be sometime in July and September.

In the document, the Port Authority has narrowed its replacement options to three, one of which would be to rebuild on the current terminal site, bounded by Eighth and Ninth Aves. and W. 40th and 42nd Sts.

Ramping up its plans: The Port Authority is proposing three options for rebuilding its current bus terminal. (Photo by Yannic Rack)

The document notes about this plan, “Although there would be challenges, the PANYNJ would maintain, to the greatest extent practicable, bus operations during construction and would seek to address impacts on the community during construction.”

A second option would use the lower level of the nearby Jacob Javits Center — between 34th and 38th Sts. west of 11th Ave. — as a bus terminal. Potential design and construction problems with this plan include part of the West Side Highway having to be raised, and part of the Lincoln Tunnel having to be shut down, according to the document.

A third option would move intercity buses to the lower level of the Javits Center, while renovating the existing Port Authority site for commuter use. Challenges to this last scenario include compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, accommodating heavier, taller and longer buses, and incorporating new building, bus operation and passenger technologies, the document says.

Estimated costs for a new Port Authority bus terminal have reached as high as $10 billion. In 2017, the Port Authority’s board allocated $3.5 billion for a replacement as part of a 10-year capital plan.

Commuters traveling through the Port Authority during a typical weekday morning rush hour. (Photo by The Villager)

In 2016, Hell’s Kitchen residents fought off a proposal to rebuild the Port Authority on nearby blocks on the West Side, including potentially demolishing buildings in the neighborhood.

The current bus terminal was built in 1950 and expanded in 1981. It sees about 260,000 passenger trips on weekdays. By 2040, the Port Authority estimates that demand is expected to grow by 30 percent, with as many as 337,000 weekday passenger trips.

“Today’s kickoff of the formal public outreach process for the new bus terminal is a critical milestone for what will be one of the largest and most important transit infrastructure projects in the country,” said Kevin O’Toole, Port Authority chairperson. “We are strongly committed to replacing this legacy, overcapacity facility, and look forward to a spirited dialogue with all stakeholders on how the project will proceed.”

Rick Cotton, Port Authority executive director, added, “We are committed to building the replacement bus terminal and to do so in full consultation with the community, with elected officials in both New York and New Jersey, and with all stakeholders.”

The Port Authority expects the replacement project to be completed by 2030, according to the scoping document.

Public comments about the scoping document can be submitted at https://publiccomments.panynj.gov/.