Port Authority Press Release dated September 15, 2003
and Fort Lee commit $30 million to
The Port Authority and the Borough of Fort Lee have agreed to work together to initiate $30 million worth of improvements to relieve traffic congestion on roadways around the George Washington Bridge.
The project will add lanes to existing roadways, install new traffic signals and build new roadways link to better connect local streets. The Port Authority will provide $15 million over five years to support the project, while the Borough of Fort Lee and Bergen County will provide the rest of the funds.
Governor James E. McGreevey, who has made improving the states roadways a top priority of his administration, said, "There are few things more precious than the time we have to spend with our families. Congestion and traffic impose on that time, affecting our quality of life and our economy.
"Drivers in New Jersey lose 261 million hours a year to congestion - an average of 45 hours per driver, and our economy misses out on $7 billion each year as a result of traffic.
This $30 million project will not only reduce traffic near the George Washington Bridge, but will also give commuters more time at home with their families."
Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, "The Port Authority and Fort Lee have been partners since the original construction of the George Washington Bridge in 1931, and we remain committed to keeping that partnership strong. This project signifies an important step forward in our efforts to ensure that the George Washington Bridge better serves the millions of motorists who use the worlds busiest bridge every year. But it also is going to help protect and improve the quality of life for the residents of Fort Lee."
Fort Lee Mayor Jack Alter said, "Todays agreement is the culmination of many years of cooperative effort between the Port Authority and the Borough. This agreement will result in a series of major improvements that will benefit Fort Lee residents, as well as the commuting public."
The agreement provides for roadway improvement projects to:
A new parking garage will also be built on the site of the existing Fort Lee Municipal Lot to provide additional parking capacity.
Commuter traffic at the George Washington Bridge has increased in recent years, with nearly 55 million vehicles using the bridge annually to travel between New Jersey and New York. Over the past six years, the Port Authority has invested more than $280 million in George Washington Bridge infrastructure improvements. These capital improvements have been part of the agencys efforts to provide Fort Lee residents with improved mobility and accessibility throughout the New York Metropolitan area. The Borough and the Port Authority are committed to working together to address traffic flow and developmental opportunities.
The Port Authority of New York
and New Jersey operates some of the busiest and most important transportation links in the
region. They include John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International,
LaGuardia and Teterboro airports; the George Washington Bridge; the Lincoln and Holland
tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH rapid-transit
system; the Downtown Manhattan Heliport; Port Newark; the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine
Terminal; the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island; the Brooklyn Piers/Red Hook
Container Terminal; and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The agency
also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. The Port Authority is
financially self-supporting and receives no tax revenue from either state.
Buses are sometimes late dropping children off at school. Business appointments are missed. Consumers bypass the downtown and head for shops in other towns.
"It has a huge impact on businesses," said Stacey Goldberg, president of the Greater Fort Lee Chamber of Commerce, who has heard plenty of complaints from business owners about jams on the bridge that ultimately clog local streets.
Goldberg and others are hoping that a proposed $30 million traffic improvement project could help ease the burden on borough streets by offering motorists additional routes within the town to get to the entrance ramps of the world's busiest bridge.
While many of the details are yet to be hashed out, Goldberg said the proposal sounds as if it could help give the borough an economic boost.
"This will allow businesses and customers to come back to Fort Lee," Goldberg said regarding the plan, which local and state officials announced Monday at Fort Lee Historic Park.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has agreed to fund half of the project's cost, offering $3 million a year over the course of five years. Officials said Monday that construction of two new streets is expected to start next summer. The project would be completed in phases.
Plans call for widening Main Street from Hudson Terrace to Martha Washington Way in addition to creating two new streets that would run east-west parallel to Main Street. Those streets would be built within the municipal parking lot west of Lemoine Avenue and within a 16-acre tract just north of Main Street and east of Lemoine Avenue.
Town & Country Developers of Woodcliff Lake, which is under contract to buy the land from Helmsley Enterprises and create a $1 billion complex of condominiums, stores, and a hotel and conference center, has agreed to help fund some of the remaining costs, officials said. A new street is expected to run through the development.
Raymond Levy, the borough's economic development director, said the borough has not determined how much taxpayers would pay and what the developer would pay. Because Main Street is a county road, Bergen County is also expected to help fund the construction, Levy said.
Officials from Town & Country Developers and from the county did not return calls on Monday.
Police Chief Tom Tessaro said he has not seen the plans for the project, but said anything that would help cut traffic on local streets would help his department.
"It looks like this could give us a little bit of relief," said Tessaro, whose department constantly directs traffic on local streets and monitors problems on the bridge.
Some had concerns, though, that new streets would only bring more cars into Fort Lee and do little to ease the community's traffic woes.
Peter Lee Chin, a Republican candidate for Borough Council, said he is concerned that the project, which would be completed over the course of a few years, would bring years of congestion because of construction. He said the project also didn't seem to be long-term in scope.
"It's only a temporary Band-Aid to improve
traffic slightly," said Chin, who was concerned that the public had been shut out of
any discussions about the project.
Star Ledger, Tuesday, September 16, 2003
$30M to reduce jams at GWB
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the borough of Fort Lee and Bergen County will spend $30 million over the next five years to lessen traffic congestion around the George Washington Bridge.
The project will add lanes to existing roadways,
install new traffic signals and build new roadways to better connect local streets.
The plan also calls for a new municipal parking garage on the site of the existing Fort Lee municipal lot.
Commuter traffic has increased at the bridge in recent years, with nearly 55 million vehicles a year using it to travel between New Jersey and New York.
Star Ledger, Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Fort Lee traffic plan to get $7M from Bergen
The Record, Sunday, December 21, 2003
FORT LEE - Bergen County will help fund a $30 million project to restructure the traffic pattern south of the George Washington Bridge in an effort to ease congestion in the area.
The county Board of Freeholders agreed last week to give the borough $7 million toward building additional roads and improving existing streets.
"Bergen County relies on access in and out of Fort Lee to carry the bulk of the region's commerce over the George Washington Bridge," said Valerie Huttle, the board's chairwoman. Huttle said the funding, which was approved unanimously, was the county's "fair share" for repairs to Main Street and Hudson Terrace, both county roads.
Under the agreement, the county would issue bonds for $1 million a year for the next seven years. The money would be part of the county's annual capital budget for county road projects.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge, has already pledged to give the borough $15 million.
The borough is also working with Town & Country Developers of Woodcliff Lake to determine how much of the balance the company will pay. Fort Lee officials said they are trying to keep the borough's portion of funding below $3 million.
Town & Country plans to build a $1 billion complex with luxury condominiums, a hotel, conference center, and stores on a mostly vacant 16-acre tract near the bridge. The tract would be bisected by at least one of the proposed roads.
One of the reasons the land hasn't been developed for the last 30 years, officials say, is that the roads around it could be overwhelmed by more traffic.
Raymond Levy, Fort Lee's economic development director, said the borough hopes to have the infrastructure in place before the developer begins building. Levy said that with $22 million now secured, the borough could begin talking to engineers about designs for the project. He hopes construction will begin by July.
"We have enough money to get it going," Levy said.
The road project would add another westbound lane to Main Street from Hudson Terrace to Martha Washington Way and create at least two roads to take the strain off Main Street.
One road would cut through the municipal parking lot just west of Lemoine Avenue, offering the potential for additional retail stores and access to a parking garage that the borough has planned for the lot.
Town officials estimate 70 percent of the cars that drive through Fort Lee are headed to and from the bridge, which carries 300,000 vehicles a day.
Safety was a key reason the freeholders approved the $7 million contribution, Huttle said. Lower Main Street's intersection with Hudson Terrace has been the site of numerous accidents.
A temporary plan was developed by the county and the Fort Lee Police Department about two years ago, turning Hudson Terrace into a one-way northbound road between Main Street and Bridge Plaza South. The temporary traffic pattern has reduced accidents by about two-thirds, Mayor Jack Alter said.
"This new county money will now enable us to come up with a final solution to this problem instead of a temporary one," he said.
Source: The Record, Sunday, December 21, 2003