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New York to Port Authority: Hold That Bus Terminal

Port Authority Bus Terminal in NYC (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Our weekly “New Starts” roundup of new and newsworthy transportation projects worldwide.

Port Authority Bus Terminal Replacement Hits Speed Bump
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s plan to replace Manhattan’s crowded and aging Port Authority Bus Terminal with a new facility a block away hit a wall last week when City Hall and neighborhood representatives weighed in against the plan, WNYC reports.

The bistate transportation agency had crafted an internal compromise to allow the replacement to proceed: The New York representatives on its board would support the construction of a new terminal in Manhattan in exchange for the New Jersey representatives voting to allow the redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport to proceed.

This compromise is now threatened by the stance of the neighborhood reps, who argue that no proposal should proceed without the input and feedback of local officials and area residents.

“It makes no sense whatsoever to propose this without involving city agencies and all the local communities so you get some agreement,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer told WNYC’s “Transportation Nation.”

One congressman has even gone so far as to suggest the Port Authority consider putting the new terminal in New Jersey, an option the New Jersey representatives on the Port Authority board deep-sixed at a March meeting.

Port Authority Board Chair John Degnan struck a conciliatory tone in stating that the new terminal would not be built without taking into account the concerns of area residents and public officials as well as “the regulatory oversight that legitimately belongs with the city of New York.” The city, for its part, issued a statement calling for the authority to reconsider the current $1 million design competition for a new terminal and begin “a comprehensive public engagement and planning process” that considers all possible options for a new terminal in a regional context — presumably, including one in New Jersey.

Twin Cities Light-Rail Extensions: One Advances, the Other Stalls
A deadlock over state funding for one of two proposed extensions to the light-rail transit network in Minneapolis-St. Paul casts a cloud over a county vote to provide funding for the other.

(AP Photo/Janet Hostetter)

The state-level deadlock is over the Southwest LRT project, an extension of the Green Line from downtown Minneapolis to edge cities St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie. According to an Alpha News MN report, a dispute between the Republican-controlled Minnesota House and the Democratic-Farmer-Labor-controlled Senate is holding up a special session needed to pass a statewide transportation funding package. The House refuses to vote on a package that includes state funding for the LRT line, while the Senate says it will not vote on a package that omits it. Gov. Mark Dayton (DFL) is quoted in the story as saying that he does not believe a special session will take place without a resolution to fund the LRT extension to the tune of $135 million. The two sides have until Thursday to see if they can work out differences and proceed with the special session.

The Twin Cities Metropolitan Council said that delays in approving the state funding have caused the extension’s price tag to grow by $19 million. The funding is necessary in order to release $900 million in federal assistance already pledged toward the $1.8 billion project.

House Speaker Kurt Daudt said that it’s likely that the Met Council will find another way to raise the local funds needed for the federal support to flow: “Southwest Light Rail will probably find its own path without the legislature,” he told KSTP-TV 5.

That may also mean that the other LRT extension currently on the drawing board may have to do the same. But that didn’t stop Hennepin County from voting to approve up to $149.6 million for construction of the Bottineau LRT line, which would extend the Blue Line northward from downtown Minneapolis to Brooklyn Park by 2021. The Star Tribune reports that in addition to the Hennepin County funding, money from a metrowide transit sales tax, the city of Brooklyn Park, the state of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Transportation will also be needed to meet the 51 percent local match needed to qualify for federal funding. If the Southwest LRT impasse is any guide, Hennepin County and the Met Council may need to consider other alternatives here as well.

Japan to Finance New Manila Commuter Rail Line
The International Railway Journal reports that the Japanese government will lend the Philippine Transportation Department $2.4 billion for a new commuter rail line intended to ease congestion in metro Manila.

The 38-km elevated line will connect Manila with Bulacan province. In addition to congestion relief, the line is also designed to stimulate economic development in the Philippine capital region.

Some of the congestion the new line is intended to alleviate is on the rail lines themselves. According to the article, Manila rail commuters endure long lines and trains so overcrowded they occasionally have to stop between stations.

No timetable or details have been released for the project. The loan is repayable over a 40-year period.

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