TRENTON – The Senate Transportation Committee today approved a bill sponsored by Senator Paul A. Sarlo that regional transportation experts say will greatly ease air traffic congestion at Newark Liberty International Airport and Teterboro Airport.
Senator Sarlo’s bill, S-25, which would authorize the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to purchase Stewart Airport in New York State, was approved unanimously and forwarded to the full Senate.
“This bill will help residents and businesses near Newark and Teterboro Airports who have dealt for far too long with the noise and the air traffic congestion,” said Senator Sarlo, D-Bergen, Essex and Passaic. “When the Port Authority gets through fixing up Stewart, it will draw air traffic and cargo flights from the northern areas which now have no viable alternatives to the metropolitan airports in and around New York City.”
Senator Sarlo said his bill is identical to one passed four years ago in New York to authorize the Port Authority to expand its range of operations beyond it current limit of 25 miles out from the Statue of Liberty.
“Lady Liberty will get a bigger yard and the residents of North Jersey will be better off,” Senator Sarlo said.
Stewart Airport and its 2,400 acres of property, located about 60 miles north of New York City, would be purchased by the Port Authority and upgraded to handle increased air and ground traffic.
“If we don’t act now, we will suffer absolute air gridlock in just a few short years,” said Senator Sarlo. “This opportunity for Stewart is too good to pass up.”
The Port Authority projects about 150 million passengers at the three major metropolitan airports by 2025, an increase of more than 65 million from the totals registered for 2003, Senator Sarlo said.
“The numbers are staggering and the challenge is real, but so is this opportunity to improve the lives of our residents,” Senator Sarlo said. “The time to act is now.”
Once New Jersey and New York enact identical legislation affecting the Port Authority , the bi-state agency can move ahead to complete negotiations to purchase the lease of the underdeveloped airport.