News:Congress Approves More than $130M for Port of NY/NJ Projects

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Critical channel-deepening and environmental projects at the Port of New York and New Jersey will continue to advance under a funding bill approved this week by Congress. The deeper channels will allow new, larger ships to enter the harbor, maintaining the port's competitive edge as the leading port on the east coast of North America.

The fiscal year 2004 Energy and Water Development appropriations bill, which funds U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works projects, includes $110 million for channel-deepening projects in the port. The funding will allow for the continuation of federal channel-deepening projects under construction in the Kill van Kull-Newark Bay, the Arthur Kill and Port Jersey channels. In addition, $2.6 million was provided for harbor estuary restoration feasibility studies. Another $19.2 million was appropriated for ongoing federal channel maintenance dredging projects.

New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey said, "The Port of New York and New Jersey is a tremendous economic engine for the state of New Jersey and the entire region, supporting more than 228,000 jobs. Our mission in New Jersey is to create an economy that has a job for everyone. The port's redevelopment program, including the channel deepening projects, is critical to sustaining this region's economic activity. This funding - the largest allocation of federal funding for these projects to date - is vital if these projects are to remain on track."

New York Governor George E. Pataki said, "President Bush has made the port's channel-deepening projects a national priority. Congress has endorsed this concept through their actions to fund these projects. In addition, Congress is investing to protect our environment by funding studies that we expect will lead to significant projects to restore habitats in the harbor's estuary benefiting citizens of both New York and New Jersey."

Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, "The channel-deepening program is the centerpiece of our five-year, $1 billion port redevelopment effort, which will provide the modern infrastructure necessary to serve the 18 million consumers in the region and maintain the Port of New York and New Jersey's position as the premiere port on the East Coast of North America. We thank members of the New York and New Jersey congressional delegations for their unswerving support. We especially want to thank Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen for his leadership on the House Appropriations Committee. He and Congressman Robert Menendez have been steadfast and invaluable advocates for the port."

Port Authority Vice Chairman Charles A. Gargano said, "Cargo activity in the Port of New York and New Jersey grew 14.6 percent in the first half of 2003. These channel deepening projects are necessary to continue this growth. The deepened channels will accommodate larger, deeper-draft vessels that are today's industry standard and will allow the Port of New York and New Jersey to remain competitive.

Port Authority Executive Director Joseph J. Seymour said, "Today the largest armada of dredging vessels ever deployed in a single port is hard at work digging deeper channels that are an essential component of the harbor's overall marine infrastructure. This funding ensures that this work will continue uninterrupted. We are equally committed to completing studies necessary to advance essential environmental programs to protect and restore the waterways throughout the New York harbor estuary. This funding will ensure that all of these projects remain on schedule. We thank our Senators, House Members and President Bush for their continued support."

In 2002, each of the port's various channel-deepening projects was consolidated into a single New York-New Jersey harbor appropriations. This consolidation provides greater flexibility in funding and managing projects, which have the potential to reduce cost, improve schedules and minimize impacts on the environment and surrounding communities.

The Port Authority is the local partner with the Army Corps of Engineers for the following projects:

· Kill van Kull-Newark Bay 45-foot deepening: The Corps recently awarded the last contract for this project, which is on schedule to be completed by the end of 2004.

· Arthur Kill 41-foot deepening: Work began on this project in 2003. The channel leading to Howland Hook on Staten Island is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2005. The remainder of the project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2006.

· Harbor-wide 50-ft. deepening: The Port Authority and the Army Corps are finalizing a Project Cooperation Agreement (PCA), the formal agreement that assigns rights and responsibilities between the two agencies. It is expected that the PCA will be signed in the spring of 2004. Construction contracts can be awarded soon after the signing. The Port Authority did receive a special permit from the Corps to proceed with drilling and blasting rock to the 50-foot depth in the Bergen Point section of the Kill van Kull. That work is well under way.

The State of New Jersey is the local sponsor for the Port Jersey 41-ft. deepening project, which is on scheduled to be completed by 2005.

The New York-New Jersey environmental programs funded in the appropriations bill include both the Hudson-Raritan Estuary Restoration project and studies on the Gowanus Canal in New York, and the Lower Passaic River and the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

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