Port Authority board approves overhaul of bus terminal

The Port Authority board unanimously approved a plan Thursday to overhaul its dilapidated bus terminal with a modern facility in Times Square.

Officials want to demolish and rebuild the current structure on Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street.

Last year, 66 million commuters used the crowded Port Authority Bus Terminal.

So far, the Port Authority is leaning toward a new structure between Ninth and Eleventh avenues, one block west of the current terminal, that would be connected with the subway. It is also considering creating a bus-staging facility nearby.

The board hopes to run the current terminal until the new one is finished, so that the transition will be less difficult on commuters.

A working group at the Port Authority recommended that a design competition be held that includes private design firms, and that the agency study possible rail and ferry connections.

The design concept would have to be chosen by Sept. 2016.

The Port Authority will study how bus congestion can be lowered near the Lincoln Tunnel and on local streets, according to a resolution that was passed.

Platform space can be so scarce that buses end up circling nearby, making noise and polluting the neighborhood.

A cost estimate for the overhaul has not yet been released by the Port Authority, according to a spokesman.

Officials have told NJ.com the new structure could cost as much as $10 billion. The current terminal was built in 1950 and cost $24 million.

The massive price tag comes as the Port Authority has to help pay for a new Hudson River tunnel and the modernization of LaGuardia Airport.

The sale of air rights over the current terminal could help pay for the new one. Public-private partnerships will also be looked at to help pay for the project.

The Port Authority has made other recent upgrades to the current bus facility.

It is spending $90 million on short-term renovations that include new bathrooms, repairing ceilings leaks, stronger cell phone reception and electronic charging stations. The upgrades were part of the Port Authority’s Quality of Commute program.

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