Construction of Port Authority’s new bus terminal could start in 2024

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More details emerged on plans to build a new Port Authority bus terminal to replace the current obsolete facility in Midtown Manhattan on Wednesday on the first day of public hearings, with a schedule to begin construction from 2024.

“Construction will take eight years, starting in 2024 with a temporary bus terminal and ramps,” said Graham Trelstad, project consultant for WSP. “It will open in 2028 and construction will begin in the main terminal. “

This phase of the project will take another four years and plans call for the opening of a permanent bus terminal in 2031, he said. In addition, the temporary bus terminal will be converted for its permanent use as a terminal for removing interstate buses from city streets which now allow curbside passenger pick-up, and for storage of buses. .

The basic structures of the four towers proposed to be built above the bus terminal would be included in the construction to be built later, a technique that the port authority used to build the remaining towers of the World Trade Center after the construction of the first round.

Three would be commercial towers and one would be built for residential and mixed use.

Public hearings are being held to meet the requirements of the Federal Transit Administration‘s Environmental Impact Statement, which could lead to federal funding for the bus station. A second public hearing on Zoom will take place on Thursday, and email and written comments will be collected on the project’s website until July 19.

“While council is satisfied that the final scope reflects a high degree of community contribution, a few concerns remain,” said Christine Berthet, co-chair of community council # 4 transportation, representing one of the neighboring neighborhoods.

Air quality and pollution remain a concern, both from the new terminal and the existing Lincoln Tunnel traffic stuck on 9th and 10th Avenues, she said. Neighbors are also concerned that air pollution could worsen due to delayed traffic during the project.

“The port authority should tackle this pollution, which has existed for 20 years and has worsened since COVID,” said Berthet. “They are a huge burden on the quality of life of (the) community. “

While the new terminal has added interstate buses that now service city streets, jitneys are not included in the new terminal and are pouring into neighborhood streets, she said.

“It is essential that they have access (to the terminal),” said Berthet.

Finally, she said the community council would like the height and mass of a proposed 60- to 70-storey tower to be reduced.

A speaker at an afternoon hearing had a solution that could address the concerns of Community Council # 4 – build the bus terminal in New Jersey.

“It belongs across the Hudson where it wouldn’t interfere with the neighborhood,” said Ken Karp of Manhattan. “This stop-and-go traffic on the propeller (to the tunnel) is an unnatural crime. The port authority has never considered the New Jersey side.

This idea was explored in 2015 and rejected. Authorities have investigated a bus terminal “west of the Hudson” in New Jersey that may be connected to a trans-Hudson rail line that would then transport commuters to Manhattan. One of these lines could involve the Gateway commuter rail tunnel proposed by Amtrak, another would use the proposed but never built extension of Metro 7 to Secaucus.

Even though it was being built in Manhattan, Karp wondered how a new building would improve the traffic bottleneck at the Lincoln Tunnel.

Existing bus traffic and trips are expected to increase significantly by 2040 – now the terminal has 250,000 weekday passenger trips, Trelstad said.

The last three concepts from which the current plan was selected were scaled down from 13 ideas on the New York side and included locating a new bus terminal under or near the Javits Convention Center.

These were dismissed for being so far from subway lines used by commuters, based on public comments during the 2019 hearings.

The new design is a base replacement, introduced in January that would include a five-story bus terminal, a nearly 1 million square foot bus warehouse and staging building between 9th and 10th Avenues, and a larger set of ramps directly to and from the Lincoln Tunnel.

No property would have to be condemned for the new terminal, addressing a major concern of residential and commercial neighbors. It would offer five floors for buses and 160 passenger doors.

The new terminal design also includes infrastructure for the future construction of four high-rise towers on parts of the new bus terminal that could help finance it, through the sale of air rights and payments in lieu of taxes shared by the city with authority. Federal funding could also be sought.

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Larry Higgs can be reached at lhiggs@njadvancemedia.com.

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