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Port Authority moves ahead with $10B replacement of Midtown’s miserable bus terminal

by Staff

After years of stops and starts, the Port Authority on Thursday said it’s moving ahead with a plan to replace its decrepit Midtown bus terminal with a new “world class” facility.

Agency officials said they submitted a draft environmental impact statement for the project, a step required in order to secure federal approval — as well as funding — for the overhaul.

The updated plans for the project call for the new building to have a shiny entrance that fills in a block of 41st Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues. Officials also plan to add in 3.5 acres of green space along the terminal.

The Port Authority has pitched plans for the replacement of the 73-year-old terminal since 2016. The agency’s Executive Director Rick Cotton said during a news conference it’s high time for the project to move forward, calling the current building “a poster child for failed legacy infrastructure” that “desperately needs to be replaced.”

The project will cost an estimated $10 billion and take at least eight years to complete, officials said. The work would require the demolition of the current bus terminal — and the construction of a temporary facility for bus riders to board while the new building is erected.

Cotton warned there would be “significant” traffic disruptions in Midtown while construction is underway. But he said the agency’s “process for dealing with traffic management has become enormously sophisticated” due to its recent reconstruction of LaGuardia Airport.

The Port Authority in 2017 allocated $3 billion for the project, but may need to pay even more money to get the job done. Agency officials on Thursday said they will apply for $1 billion federal grants to help fund the work.

The Port Authority also proposed the construction of two skyscrapers on land owned by the agency, and wants to use property taxes from the new buildings to cover $2.5 billion of the costs. New York state officials tried a similar approach to help cover some of the costs to renovate Penn Station, but the plan was sunk in 2022 after the real estate developer Vornado backed out of a plan to erect new skyscrapers near the train hub.

Cotton said the bus terminal project had a better chance of attracting real estate development because of its proximity to Times Square. Office leases — which have plummeted since the pandemic — at the Crossroads of the World should rebound by 2030, Cotton prognosticated.

The current facility is the busiest bus terminal in the world, and carried 260,000 riders per day before the pandemic. But it is also notorious for being one of the most miserable places in Manhattan.

Cotton said the new project would bring the terminal into the 21st century.

“Our goal is to build a world class bus terminal that is worthy of this region,” Cotton said at a press announcement Thursday. “Best in class functionality, cutting edge technology, inspiring civic architecture, supportive of the surrounding community.”

Cotton said the new space will be fitted with charging stations so electric buses can be used at the facility when it opens.

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