Sen. Charles Schumer (NY-D.) is criticizing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for spending almost $2 billion on projects that don't relate to its mission and don't produce revenue. Schumer was particularly pointed in singling out repair work on the Pulaski Skyway, which is currently underway.
"New Jersey and Gov. Christie, after killing the project to build a new commuter train tunnel under the Hudson, directed the Port Authority to finance the renovation of the Pulaski Skyway to the tune of nearly $1 billion," Schumer said in remarks to real estate and construction industry leaders. "The Pulaksi Skyway is neither owned nor in any way operated by the Port Authority. It is a state road system and its maintenance and redevelopment should be funded as such."
New Jersey's own DOT has little funding for road repair; the state has the second lowest gas tax in the United States, and Christie has vowed not to raise it.
Schumer called the decision to kill the tunnel — known as the ARC tunnel, for Access to the Region's Core — "one of the worst decisions in transportation history." Christie had said the tunnel was killed because New Jersey couldn't afford it, but it also enabled the governor to get access to billions of dollars that he could spend on roads. Schumer said there were examples from both parties, on both sides of the Hudson, of what he called "intrusions" into Port Authority funds for state purposes.
Schumer was the latest to weigh in on one of the hottest topics of the day: Port Authority reform. The senator also proposed changing the way staff and board members are selected, and called for greater transparency.