Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie announced a leadership overhaul at the Port Authority on Tuesday, bringing in a former New Jersey legislator and an adviser to take the reins at the bi-state agency.
Kevin O’Toole, a former Republican state senator from New Jersey, will be the new chairman of the Port Authority’s board of commissioners. Rick Cotton, special counsel to Cuomo, will be its executive director.
“With major infrastructure projects across the region underway, including the new JFK and LaGuardia Airports, the Port Authority has unprecedented momentum, and Rick Cotton has the experience and tenacity to continue moving these transformative projects ahead and lead the organization into the future,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Christie said he could “think of no one better” than O’Toole to lead the agency through the process of completing the Gateway Program, which would greatly expand train capacity to Penn Station.
The new leaders will take over later this week.
The duo replaces John Degnan and Patrick Foye. Degnan had come into his role as chairman in 2014 after the George Washington Bridge lane closing scandal. Foye, who was appointed as the agency’s executive director in 2011, notably ordered for the lanes to be reopened on Sept. 9, 2013.
Foye had announced toward the end of 2015 that he would be leaving his position, but he had decided to stay on after a replacement hadn’t been found.
The Port Authority swap will have a spillover effect at the MTA, sources said. Foye is expected to take a leadership role at the beleaguered agency, according to a source. A spokesman at Cuomo’s office declined to comment on the speculation.