Gordon, Weinberg: Port Authority Bus Terminal Fight Shows Need For Legislative Oversight of Agency

Gordon, Weinberg

Senators Encourage Assembly Colleagues To Give Final Legislative Approval Today To Compromise Port Authority Reform Measure

 

TRENTON – Senators Bob Gordon and Loretta Weinberg today said the ongoing battle over where to build a new Port Authority Bus Terminal shows the need for enactment of a Port Authority reform bill that guarantees legislative oversight of the powerful bistate agency.

The senators urged the Assembly today to give bipartisan support to their Port Authority bill (S-708), sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) and developed in consultation with New York Assemblyman Jim Brennan (D-Brooklyn). The bill provides for continuing legislative oversight of the Port Authority and independent monitoring and regular reporting on the cost and progress of major construction projects.

“With the Port Authority overseeing both the new Port Authority Bus Terminal and the new Gateway rail tunnel project, it is no exaggeration to say that the future of trans-Hudson transportation and of our regional economy rests in the hands of the Port Authority,” said Senator Gordon (D-Bergen/Passaic), chairman of the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee, which held extensive hearings on the Port Authority legislation. “Given the pattern of events – both before and after Bridgegate – we have real reason for concern.”

“I get worried when Port Authority Chairman John Degnan – who has been the most important voice on the board for the interests of New Jersey bus and rail commuters – warns that New York’s commissioners are using delaying tactics to hold up the construction of a new Port Authority Bus Terminal,” said Senate Majority Leader Weinberg (D-Bergen), who co-chaired the Joint Legislative Committee of Investigation on the Bridgegate matter.

“We know that Scott Rechler, the vice-chair from New York, wants to put the new bus terminal in New Jersey, which would add significantly to the commute for New Jersey bus riders, and we have significant concerns about how the design competition for the new bus terminal will be assessed and decided, and how the assessment of future trans-Hudson commuter capacity will be conducted,” added Weinberg.

Senator Gordon said it is critical that the two states adopt the compromise Port Authority bill being voted upon in the Assembly today, which incorporates all of the ethics, financial disclosure and management reforms contained in the New York bill signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in December, but adds legislative oversight and strict monitoring of major capital construction projects.

“What we heard over and over again from transportation advocates in the four public hearings we held was that the most important reform we can enact is legislative oversight,” said Senator Gordon. “Legislative oversight is public oversight, and no agency is more in need of public oversight than the Port Authority.”