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Port Authority OKs $210M in engineering, planning work on new NYC bus terminal

by Staff

Port Authority officials followed last week’s press conference about replacing the disliked Port Authority Bus Terminal on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan with action, authorizing spending $210 million on Thursday for more engineering and planning work on a trio of buildings.

The $210 million authorization, unanimously approved by the board of commissioners on Thursday, represents the largest single commitment of cash to the project, which could start construction in late 2024 or early 2025.

The $210 million would support design and advanced engineering of the new terminal’s three major components:

— Construction of a new Main Terminal, occupying the footprint of the existing PABT between 8th Avenue and 9th Avenue, and West 40th Street and West 42nd Street. The current terminal will be demolished.

— Building a bus staging and storage facility that occupies the western part of a block between 9th and 10th avenues and West 39th and West 40th streets, that will connect to the main terminal. This structure will serve as a temporary bus terminal when the old Main Terminal is demolished and a new one built on that site.

— Constructing a new ramp structure with a direct connection to the Lincoln Tunnel and to the staging and storage facility and main terminal. The ramps and staging structure fulfils a pledge to the surrounding Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood to move idling and waiting buses from city streets directly to the new terminal, said Rick Cotton, Port Authority executive director.

Last week, the Federal Transit Administration published a draft Environmental Impact Statement study of the new bus terminal. Officials called it a major milestone toward federal approval of the project, and the possible awarding of a $1 billion grant. The project comes with a $10 billion total price tag.

A public comment period is now underway and four public hearings are scheduled between Feb. 20 and 22, that could lead to publishing the final EIS later this year, said Steven Platte, Authority chief of major projects.

Why isn’t the authority waiting until they have a decision from the feds? To keep the project progressing, Cotton said.

“One of the principal operating commitments of Port Authority is to get things done,” he said. “Trying to do things sequentially is not the best way to get things done.”

Plans call for two phases of construction, the first between 2024 and 2028 to build the ramps and bus staging and storage facility and the second between 2029 and 2032 to demolish to old terminal and build its replacement on that site, Cotton said.

“At the beginning of a project, you have to move forward the environmental impact statement process, the permitting process, which is a long process,” he said. “In the course of doing that, we’re spending money on planning, on preliminary designs, on preliminary engineering. In order to get ready, you can’t just stand still.”

The new 2.2 million square foot main terminal features an atrium entrance at its center on 41st Street and Eighth Avenue, a soaring, multi-story interior atrium in the center, more ground floor-retail shops, accessible from the street, and the creation of 3.5 new acres of public open space.

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Larry Higgs may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on X @CommutingLarry

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