Got $800 million? The Port Authority wants to talk.
Private investors are being sought to build a replacement bridge between New Jersey and New York.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey would then lease the privately owned Goethals Bridge from the investor to retain control of the tolls and operations.
The agency is taking the unprecedented step because revenues have fallen sharply during the recession and its debt limit is determined by revenues. Spokesman Steve Sigmund says the Port Authority can't issue bonds to pay the estimated $755 million cost of a new bridge.
If the deal goes through, it would be the first public-private arrangement involving a massive transit project in the Port Authority's 90-year history. The agency wants proposals submitted by June 11.
"I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it’s not been done before," Mike Wolf, a public finance analyst with Philadelphia-based Boenning & Scattergood, told the Newark Star-Ledger. "We think of the New York Port Authority as being the 800-pound gorilla that leads the country in things like infrastructure. I’ve never heard of this before, but I’m loath to criticize, because these people are leaders in this type of thing,"
The 82-year-old bridgewhich links Elizabeth with Staten Island, has two lines in each direction with no shoulder.
Preliminary plans for the new bridge call for three lanes in each direction with a right-of-way in the middle that could accommodate a light or heavy rail line in the future.