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Wall Street Journal / News - Politics

Construction Funding Approved for New York City Airports

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Thursday approved more than $1 billion to be spent next year on construction at the region’s airports.
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Paul Berger

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Thursday approved more than $1 billion to be spent next year on construction at the region’s airports.

Commissioners on the bistate agency’s board passed an $8 billion budget for 2018 which includes $3.4 billon for capital expenditure, $3.2 billion for operating expenses and $1.3 billion to service debt.

In addition to the region’s major airports, the bistate agency’s assets include six bridges and tunnels, the 16-acre World Trade Center site and the Port of New York and New Jersey, the largest port on the East Coast.

Next year, one-third of the agency’s capital budget will be directed toward the airports. At a press conference following the meeting, the agency’s vice chairman, Jeffrey Lynford, noted that the airports are a major source of revenue and need to be updated.

Profits from the airports—as well as bridges and tunnels, such as the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln Tunnel—help finance the agency’s capital program. They also help to offset losses from facilities such as the agency’s PATH rail system, which is expected to run at a deficit next year of $313 million.

The agency anticipates net operating income of $1.5 billion in 2018.

The largest airport capital expenditures next year will be $578 million toward an $8 billion redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport in New York, and $167 million toward a $2.3 billion redevelopment of Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.

During the board meeting in Jersey City, N.J., the Port Authority’s executive director, Rick Cotton, said the agency is projecting a record number of airline passengers this year: 133 million people, up 1.7% on last year.

The agency’s chief financial officer, Libby McCarthy, told commissioners that the Port Authority expects agencywide operating expenses in 2018 to grow by $61 million, or 1.9%, compared with 2017.

Ms. McCarthy said the agency could cover those increased expenses thanks to a projected increase in revenues of 2.5%, or $127 million.

Commissioners approved one dozen other spending items at the board meeting, including the release of $496 million toward the redevelopment of Newark’s Terminal A over the coming years.

They also approved an increase in the budget to raise the roadway of the Bayonne Bridge so that a larger class of container ship can call at the port’s busiest terminals in Elizabeth, N.J., and Newark, N.J. The budget was raised to $1.69 billion from $1.3 billion.

The Port Authority’s chief of major capital projects, Steven Plate, said the Bayonne Bridge project’s design hadn’t been well thought through, while the agency’s chairman, Kevin O’Toole, described the project as a “fiasco.”

Write to Paul Berger at Paul.Berger@wsj.com

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