With the ARC Tunnel dead and buried for the foreseeable future, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has unexpectedly found itself with over $3 billion to spend. Since there are no shortages of transportation infrastructure upgrades in the New York region that need funding, finding ways to spend this dough is no tall order. As Andrew Grossman reported in the Wall Street Journal this weekend, the Port Authority has already lined up projects to complete.
By and large, the ARC money will go to road improvements. The PA plans to reconstruct the 72-year-old approach to the Lincoln Tunnel on the New Jersey side of the river, and the George Washington Bridge needs a new set of support cables. On the transit side of things, the PA will start work on a new bus garage in Manhattan that will allow for increased bus loading and drop-offs at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Most of these projects would have been delayed until 2016 or beyond had ARC gone ahead.
I certainly can’t fault the PA for using its money, and they seem to be doing so wisely. Unfortunately, these projects won’t do much, if anything, to address the need to increase rail capacity across the Hudson River. Until we do that, the PA is simply spinning its wheels as it modernizes infrastructure leading to bottlenecks under the river.