The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) is a joint venture between the U.S. states of New York and New Jersey, established in 1921 through an interstate compact authorized by the United States Congress. The Port Authority oversees much of the regional transportation infrastructure, including bridges, tunnels, airports, and seaports, within the geographical jurisdiction of the Port of New York and New Jersey. This 1,500-square-mile (3,900 km²) port district is generally encompassed within a 25-mile (40 km) radius of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. The Port Authority is headquartered at 4 World Trade Center.
The Port Authority operates the Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal, which handled the third-largest volume of shipping among all ports in the United States in 2004 and the largest on the Eastern Seaboard. The Port Authority also operates Hudson River crossings, including the Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel, and George Washington Bridge connecting New Jersey with Manhattan, and three crossings that connect New Jersey with Staten Island. The Port Authority Bus Terminal and the PATH rail system are also run by the Port Authority, as well as LaGuardia Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, Teterboro Airport, Stewart International Airport and Atlantic City International Airport. The agency has its own 1,600-member Port Authority Police Department.
Although the Port Authority manages much of the transportation infrastructure in the area, most bridges, tunnels, and other transportation facilities are not included. The New York City Department of Transportation is responsible for the Staten Island Ferry and for the majority of bridges in the city. The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority is responsible for other bridges and tunnels in the area. New York City Transit Authority buses and subways, Metro North and Long Island Rail Road (all four are divisions of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority), and buses, commuter rail, and light rail operated by New Jersey Transit are also independent of PANYNJ.
It is a member of REBNY.
The Port of New York and New Jersey comprised the main point of embarkation for U.S. troops and supplies sent to Europe during World War I, via the New York Port of Embarkation. The congestion at the port led experts to realize the need for a port authority to supervise the extremely complex system of bridges, highways, subways, and port facilities in the New York-New Jersey area. The solution was the 1921 creation of the Port Authority under the supervision of the governors of the two states. By issuing its own bonds, it was financially independent of either state; the bonds were paid off from tolls and fees, not from taxes. It became one of the major agencies of the metropolitan area for large-scale projects, especially while Robert Moses was director.
In the early years of the 20th century, there were disputes between the states of New Jersey and New York over rail freights and boundaries. At the time, rail lines terminated on the New Jersey side of the harbor, while ocean shipping was centered on Manhattan and Brooklyn. Freight had to be shipped across the Hudson River in barges. In 1916, New Jersey launched a lawsuit against New York over issues of rail freight, with the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) issuing an order that the two states work together, subordinating their own interests to the public interest. The Harbor Development Commission, a joint advisory board set-up in 1917, recommended that a bi-state authority be established to oversee efficient economic development of the port district. The Port of New York Authority was established on April 30, 1921, through an interstate compact between the states of New Jersey and New York. This was the first such agency in the United States, created under a provision in the Constitution of the United States permitting interstate compacts. The idea for the Port Authority was conceived during the Progressive Era, which aimed at the reduction of political corruption and at increasing the efficiency of government. With the Port Authority at a distance from political pressures, it was able to carry longer-term infrastructure projects irrespective of the election cycles and in a more efficient manner. In 1972 it was renamed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to better reflect its status as a partnership between the two states.
Throughout its history, there have been concerns about democratic accountability, or lack thereof at the Port Authority. The Port District is irregularly shaped but comprises a 1,500-square-mile (3,900 km2) area roughly within a 25-mile (40 km) radius of the Statue of Liberty.
At the beginning of the 20th century, there were no road bridge or tunnel crossings between the two states. The initial tunnel crossings were completed privately by the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad in 1908 and 1909 (“Hudson Tubes”), followed by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1910 (“North River Tunnels”). Under an independent agency, the Holland Tunnel was opened in 1927, with some planning and construction pre-dating the Port Authority. With the rise in automobile traffic, there was demand for more Hudson River crossings. Using its ability to issue bonds and collect revenue, the Port Authority has built and managed major infrastructure projects. Early projects included bridges across the Arthur Kill, which separates Staten Island from New Jersey. The Goethals Bridge, named after chief engineer of the Panama Canal Commission General George Washington Goethals, connected Elizabeth, New Jersey and Howland Hook, Staten Island. At the south end of Arthur Kill, the Outerbridge Crossing was built and named after the Port Authority’s first chairman, Eugenius Harvey Outerbridge. Construction of both bridges was completed in 1928. The Bayonne Bridge, opened in 1931, was built across the Kill van Kull, connecting Staten Island with Bayonne, New Jersey.
Construction began in 1927 on the George Washington Bridge, linking the northern part of Manhattan with Fort Lee, New Jersey, with Port Authority chief engineer, Othmar Ammann, overseeing the project. The bridge was completed in October 1931, ahead of schedule and well under the estimated costs. This efficiency exhibited by the Port Authority impressed President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who used this as a model in creating the Tennessee Valley Authority and other such entities.
In 1930, the Holland Tunnel was placed under control of the Port Authority, providing significant toll revenues to the Port Authority. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, the Lincoln Tunnel was built, connecting New Jersey and Midtown Manhattan.
In 1962, the bankrupt Hudson & Manhattan RR was absorbed by the Port Authority, the Hudson Tubes restyled PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) and H&M RR Building site (Hudson Terminal) razed for the future World Trade Center.
In 1942, Austin J. Tobin became the Executive Director of the Port Authority. In the post-World War II period, the Port Authority expanded its operations to include airports, and marine terminals, with projects including Newark Liberty International Airport and Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminals. Meanwhile, the city-owned La Guardia Field, was nearing capacity in 1939, and needed expensive upgrades and expansion. At the time, airports were operated as loss leaders, and the city was having difficulties maintaining the status quo, losing money and not able to undertake needed expansions. The city was looking to hand the airports over to a public authority, possibly to Robert Moses’ Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. After long negotiations with the City of New York, a 50-year lease, commencing on May 31, 1947, went to the Port Authority of New York to rehabilitate, develop, and operate La Guardia Airport (La Guardia Field), John F. Kennedy International Airport (Idlewild Airport), and Floyd Bennett Field. The Port Authority transformed the airports into fee-generating facilities, adding stores and restaurants.
David Rockefeller, president of Chase Manhattan Bank, who envisioned a World Trade Center for lower Manhattan, realizing he needed public funding in order to construct the massive project, approached Tobin. Although many questioned the Port Authority’s entry into the real estate market, Tobin saw the project as a way to enhance the agency’s power and prestige, and agreed to the project. The Port Authority was the overseer of the World Trade Center, hiring the architect Minoru Yamasaki and engineer Leslie Robertson.
Yamasaki ultimately settled on the idea of twin towers. To meet the Port Authority’s requirement to build 10 million square feet (930,000 m²) of office space, the towers would each be 110-stories tall. The size of the project raised ire from the owner of the Empire State Building, which would lose its title of tallest building in the world. Other critics objected to the idea of this much “subsidized” office space going on the open market, competing with the private sector. Others questioned the cost of the project, which in 1966 had risen to $575 million. Final negotiations between The City of New York and the Port Authority centered on tax issues. A final agreement was made that the Port Authority would make annual payments in lieu of taxes, for the 40% of the World Trade Center leased to private tenants. The remaining space was to be occupied by state and federal government agencies. In 1962, the Port Authority had signed up the United States Customs Service as a tenant, and in 1964 they inked a deal with the State of New York to locate government offices at the World Trade Center.
In August 1968, construction on the World Trade Center’s north tower started, with construction on the south tower beginning in January 1969. When the World Trade Center twin towers were completed, the total costs to the Port Authority had reached $900 million. The buildings were dedicated on April 4, 1973, with Tobin, who had retired the year before, absent from the ceremonies.
In 1986, Port Authority sold rights to the World Trade Center name for $10 to an organization run by an outgoing executive, Guy F. Tozzoli. He in turn made millions of dollars selling the use of the name in up to 28 different states.
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent collapse of the World Trade Center buildings impacted the Port Authority. With the Port Authority’s headquarters located in 1 World Trade Center, it became deprived of a base of operations and sustained a great number of casualties. An estimated 1,400 Port Authority employees worked in the World Trade Center. Eighty-four employees, including 37 Port Authority police officers, its Executive Director, Neil D. Levin, and police superintendent, Fred V. Morrone, died. In rescue efforts following the collapse, two Port Authority police officers, John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno, were pulled out alive after spending nearly 24 hours beneath 30 feet (9.1 m) of rubble. Their rescue was later portrayed in the Oliver Stone film World Trade Center.
The Fort Lee lane closure scandal was a U.S. political scandal that concerns New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s staff and his Port Authority political appointees conspiring to create a traffic jam in Fort Lee, New Jersey as political retribution, and their attempts to cover up these actions and suppress internal and public disclosures. Dedicated toll lanes for one of the Fort Lee entrances (used by local traffic from Fort Lee and surrounding communities) to the upper level on the George Washington Bridge, which connects to Manhattan, were reduced from three to one from September 9–13, 2013. The toll lane closures caused massive Fort Lee traffic back-ups, which affected public safety due to extensive delays by police and emergency service providers and disrupted schools due to the delayed arrivals of students and teachers. Two Port Authority officials (who were appointed by Christie and would later resign) claimed that reallocating two of the toll lanes from the local Fort Lee entrance to the major highways was due to a traffic study evaluating “traffic safety patterns” at the bridge, but the Executive Director of the Port Authority was unaware of a traffic study.
As of March 2014
, the repercussions and controversy surrounding these actions continue to be under investigation by the Port Authority, federal prosecutors, and a New Jersey legislature committee. The Port Authority’s chairman, David Samson, who was appointed by Governor Christie, resigned on March 28, 2014 amid allegations of his involvement in the scandal and other controversies.
The Port Authority is jointly controlled by the governors of New York and New Jersey, who appoint the members of the agency’s Board of Commissioners and retain the right to veto the actions of the Commissioners from his or her own state. Each governor appoints six members to the Board of Commissioners, who are subject to state senate confirmation and serve overlapping six-year terms without pay. An Executive Director is appointed by the Board of Commissioners to deal with day-to-day operations and to execute the Port Authority’s policies. Under an informal power-sharing agreement, the Governor of New Jersey chooses the chairman of the board and the deputy executive director, while the Governor of New York selects the vice-chairman and Executive Director.
As of March 2014, the appointed commissioners are as follows:
Meetings of the Board of Commissioners are public. Members of the public may address the Board at these meetings, subject to a prior registration process via email. Public records of the Port Authority may be requested via the Office of the Secretary according to an internal Freedom of Information policy which is intended to be consistent with and similar to the state Freedom of Information policies of both New York and New Jersey.
Members of the Board of Commissioners are typically business titans and political power brokers who maintain close relationships with their respective Governors. On February 3, 2011, Former New Jersey Attorney General David Samson was named new chairman of the Port Authority.
Financially, the Port Authority has no power to tax and does not receive tax money from any local or state governments. Instead, it operates on the revenues it makes from its rents, tolls, fees, and facilities.
Patrick J. Foye became Executive Director on November 1, 2011. Prior to joining the Port Authority, he served as Deputy Secretary for Economic Development for Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey manages and maintains infrastructure critical to the New York/New Jersey region’s trade and transportation network—five of the region’s airports, the New York/New Jersey seaport, the PATH rail transit system, six tunnels and bridges between New York and New Jersey, the Port Authority Bus Terminal and George Washington Bridge Bus Station in Manhattan and The World Trade Center site.
The Port of New York and New Jersey is the largest port complex on the East Coast of North America and is located at the hub of the most concentrated and affluent consumer market in the world, with immediate access to the most extensive interstate highway and rail networks in the region. In addition, The Port Authority directly oversees the operation of seven cargo terminals in the New York–New Jersey region. Each terminal offers comprehensive shipping services, rail and trucking services.
The Port Authority operates the following seaports:
The Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal was the first in the nation to containerize, As of 2004, Port Authority seaports handle the third largest amount of shipping of all U.S. ports, as measured in tonnage.
ExpressRail is a rail network supporting intermodal freight transport at the major container terminals including dockside trackage and railyards for transloading. Various switching and terminal railroads, including the Conrail Shared Assets Operations (CRCX) on the Chemical Coast Secondary, connect to the East Coast rail freight network carriers Norfolk Southern (NS), CSX Transportation (CSX), and Canadian Pacific (CP). From January through October 2014 the system handled 391,596 rail lifts. As of 2014, three ExpressRail systems (Elizabeth, Newark, Staten Island) were in operation with the construction of a fourth at Port Jersey underway.
New York New Jersey Rail, LLC (NYNJ) is a switching and terminal railroad operates a car float operation across Upper New York Bay between the Greenville Yard in Jersey City and Brooklyn.
The Port Authority operates the following airports:
Both Kennedy and LaGuardia airports are owned by the City of New York and leased to the Port Authority for operating purposes. Newark Liberty is owned by the City of Newark and also leased to the Authority. In 2007, Stewart International Airport, owned by the State of New York, was leased to the Port Authority. The Port Authority officially took over select management functions of the Atlantic City International Airport on July 1, 2013, in conjunction with the South Jersey Transportation Authority, which leases the airport site from the FAA.
JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark Liberty as a whole form the largest airport system in the United States, second in the world in terms of passenger traffic, and first in the world by total flight operations, with JFK being the 19th busiest in the world and the 6th busiest in the US. Unfortunately, the three airports also share the dubious distinction of being consistently rated as some of the worst in the US and even the world. Frommer’s recently picked JFK’s Terminal 3 as the worst airport terminal in the world.
The Authority operates the Downtown Manhattan Heliport (Manhattan, New York).
Other facilities managed by the Port Authority include the George Washington Bridge, the Lincoln Tunnel, and the Holland Tunnel, which all connect Manhattan and Northern New Jersey; the Goethals Bridge, the Bayonne Bridge, and the Outerbridge Crossing which connect Staten Island and New Jersey.
The Port Authority operates the PATH rapid transit system linking lower and midtown Manhattan with New Jersey, the AirTrain Newark system linking Newark International Airport with New Jersey Transit and Amtrak via a station on the Northeast Corridor rail line, and the AirTrain JFK system linking JFK with Howard Beach (subway) and Jamaica (subway and Long Island Rail Road).
Major bus depots include the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 42nd Street, the George Washington Bridge Bus Station, and the Journal Square Transportation Center in Jersey City.
The Port Authority also participates in joint development ventures around the region, including the Teleport business park on Staten Island, Bathgate Industrial Park in the Bronx, the Essex County Resource Recovery Facility, Newark Legal Center, Queens West in Queens, and the South Waterfront in Hoboken. However, by April 2015, the agency was considering divesting itself of the properties to raise run and return to core mission of supporting transportation infrastructure.
Major projects by the Port Authority include the One World Trade Center and other construction at the World Trade Center site. Other projects include a new passenger terminal at JFK International Airport, and redevelopment of Newark Liberty International Airport’s Terminal B, and replacement of the Goethals Bridge. The Port Authority also has plans to buy 340 new PATH cars and begin major expansion of Stewart International Airport.
As owner of the World Trade Center site, the Port Authority has worked since 2001 on plans for reconstruction of the site, along with Silverstein Properties, and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. In 2006, the Port Authority reached a deal with Larry Silverstein, which ceded control of One World Trade Center to the Port Authority. The deal gave Silverstein rights to build three towers along the eastern side of the site, including 150 Greenwich Street, 175 Greenwich Street, and 200 Greenwich Street. Also part of the plans is the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, which will replace the temporary PATH station that opened in November 2003.
The Port Authority has its own police department that provides police services to the Port Authority. The department currently employs approximately 1,700 police officers and supervisors who have full police status in New York and New Jersey.