plans to replace aging monorail at Newark Airport | New Jersey News

By DAVID PORTER, Associated Press

With the release of a draft environmental report this week, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is advancing plans to replace the aging and troubled monorail at Newark Liberty International Airport.

The public will have one month to submit comments on the approximately $ 2 billion plan, which will connect the airport’s three terminals with parking and regional rail lines. The old Terminal A at the airport is currently being replaced at a cost of $ 2.7 billion.

After the comment period, the Federal Aviation Administration will review the environmental report and publish its findings, a process that could take a year or more.

Despite this step forward, the long-awaited project and others of the port authority’s ten-year capital plan could be negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has decimated revenues from airports, trains and crossings. of bridges and tunnels of authority.

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In an indication of what’s to come, the Port Authority’s board of directors on Thursday approved the reallocation of around $ 200 million. These funds will be redirected from the ongoing large-scale redevelopment of JFK airport terminals and taxiways to stand-alone projects such as an electrical substation which will be required whether or not the larger projects are funded.

The coronavirus-related shortfall will have “dire consequences” for the authority’s investment plans by next year if significant federal assistance is not provided, Executive Director Rick Cotton said on Thursday in a statement.

The Newark Overhead Train was built in 1996 and has required regular and expensive maintenance in recent years. In 2014, it had to be taken offline for repair for two months, forcing travelers to take shuttles. Over two million people use it each year in a typical year.

The board has considered replacing the Newark sky train for years, but chose to prioritize extending the PATH service from the Lower Manhattan Port Authority to the airport. Some board members criticized the effort as redundant since New Jersey Transit and Amtrak already link the airport to Manhattan.

The $ 1.7 billion PATH extension at the time was included in the port authority’s 2017 10-year capital plan, while the sky train was allocated $ 300 million for the maintenance and repairs. The port authority eventually changed course and in 2019 approved around $ 4 billion for a new monorail in Newark as well as a rail link to New York’s LaGuardia Airport from Manhattan.

“The current Newark AirTrain has reached the end of its useful life, experiencing frequent breakdowns and delays,” Cotton said in a statement Thursday. “A top-notch modern airport must have an attractive and reliable rail transit link that will eliminate travel headaches, not cause them.”

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