The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, the bistate agency that oversees the movement of travelers, goods and services throughout the region and world, celebrates its 100th anniversary today.
The Authority was created by an act of Congress and the signing of a compact on April 30, 1921 for the creation of the Port of New York Authority. Cooperation between New York and New Jersey over these 100 years saw the creation of a sprawling network of international airports, tunnels, bridges, bus terminals, rail systems, an international seaport, and a global financial hub.
“In the agency’s first 10 years, the Port Authority opened four new bridges, the George Washington, the Goethals, the Outerbridge, and the Bayonne,” said Executive Director Rick Cotton. “This astonishing achievement building world-class infrastructure in record time was critical to grow the region, created much-needed jobs, and established the necessary connections for trade and commerce to flourish. And now, 100 years later, the Port Authority is still building and has given fresh energy to the visionary spirit upon which this agency was founded.”
The agency shared in the region’s tragic loss experienced on September 11, 2001 when terrorists flew two passenger jets into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, which the Port Authority constructed. Tragedy also hit the agency a few years earlier with a terrorist bombing of a World Trade Center parking garage.
The Port Authority has moved forward since that time and has undergone, is building, or is planning numerous projects to improve the region’s transportation systems for decade to come.
The agency is in the midst of its 10-year, $37 billion capital plan, which includes $34.3 billion in direct spending on Port Authority facilities, and a commitment to support debt service payments of $2.7 billion of Gateway Program Development Corporation low-cost borrowing for Phase I of the Gateway Tunnel project, which will create two new passenger rail tunnels underneath the Hudson River.
Last year saw historic ridership declines at Port Authority bridges, tunnels, bus terminals, PATH trains, and airports due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A bright spot in operations has been the surge in seaport cargo volumes, which increased by 21% when comparing December 2019 to December 2020 data.
In its latest report comparing March 2019 to March 2021, cargo volumes recorded a 35% increase. The port moved 787,766 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) of cargo last month, its highest cargo activity ever.
The Port of New York and New Jersey was also the third busiest container port in the Northern Hemisphere in 2020 and the busiest on the East Coast.
Today, the Port Authority supports more than 550,000 regional jobs and generates more than $23 billion in annual wages and $80 billion in annual economic activity. It is an economic powerhouse.
“The past 100 years have established the Port Authority as a relentless, positive force in in the transportation, economic and cultural life of this vibrant New York-New Jersey region,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “The future is exciting and unpredictable, but one thing is certain: This agency will continue to be a powerful engine that keeps the region, and the country, moving forward.”
A series of events are planned to celebrate the agency’s milestone, including this morning’s planting of a time capsule containing Port Authority items from the past century – including remnants of the Twin Towers steel and pieces of the George Washington Bridge’s old suspension cables. The capsule has been placed at the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan, along with a ceremonial plaque.
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