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Port Authority OKs $100M in road upgrades for N.J. terminals

By ,
David Samson, chairman of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
David Samson, chairman of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. - ()

More than $100 million will go toward upgrading the road network around Port Newark-Elizabeth under a plan approved Wednesday by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The agency's board of commissioners authorized the program at its latest meeting in New York, sending new funds to an effort to modernize roads built decades ago. In a news release, the authority said the $105 million program includes the design, construction and realignment of portions of the five major access roads to the shipping terminals: Port, Corbin, Marlin and Kellogg streets, plus Doremus Avenue.

The move comes as the bistate agency speeds ahead with efforts to raise roadway of the Bayonne Bridge, by 64 feet, to allow passage by larger container ships. The vessels are expected to increase in size by 2015, when a project to widen the Panama Canal is complete.

Bill Baroni, the agency's deputy executive director, said the new appropriation "will ensure that we bring the era of 1950s roads into modern times so they can handle the volumes of cargo and resulting trucks that we deal with today."

As part of the project, the agency will repave each road and upgrade the barriers, drainage, traffic signals and signs, according to a news release. It also will demolish and replace the Corbin Street ramp, which officials said has been prone to accidents.

All told, the agency estimates the improvements will result in more than $60 million in time savings and lower operating costs, plus $1.2 million in safety benefits, over 30 years.

Also at Wednesday's meeting, the board moved to bolster the agency's closely watched balance sheet and steer it back to being a transportation operator. Commissioners approved the sale of the agency's remaining stake in a retail project at the World Trade Center transportation hub.

The authority will receive $800 million for its 50 percent interest, which is being acquired by the Westfield Group. The shopping center operator already owns the other half of the 365,000-square-foot space, which will open in 2015, after entering a joint venture with the agency in May 2012.

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