Map of regional transit links to EWR and connections to the Northeast Corridor train line. Credit: PANYNJ
Board Authorizes $12 Million for Planning, Design Work to Increase Transit Options and Community Connectivity for Historically Disadvantaged Communities in Cities of Newark and Elizabeth
Newark Airport Station Access Project to Deliver Many of the Community Benefits of Planned Extension of PATH to Newark Liberty Faster and at Fraction of Cost
Today, the Port Authority Board of Commissioners authorized $12 million for the planning and preliminary design of the EWR Station Access Project, which is expected to increase public transit access to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and New York City for the underserved communities in Newark and Elizabeth, including a one-seat ride to New York Penn Station’s Moynihan Train Hall and on Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT’s (NJT) direct Northeast Corridor services.
The authorization is for planning and preliminary design work for a new multimodal facility at the AirTrain Newark Rail Link Station serving EWR. The project will leverage existing transportation assets, including Amtrak, NJT and AirTrain Newark rail service, in a cost-effective way to improve access, mobility and regional connectivity for the neighboring airport communities of Newark and Elizabeth.
“When completed, the EWR Station Access Project will further promote public transportation use and efficiency in two of New Jersey’s largest cities,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “Enhancing connectivity means expanding opportunity – opportunity that for far too long has remained out of reach for historically excluded communities in our state. While connecting residents to our world-class transportation network and airport, this project will also catalyze economic activity and generate good-paying jobs for hard-working New Jerseyans.”
“Access to public transportation is vital to expanding economic opportunities,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “For decades, the communities of the South Ward of Newark and the northern part of Elizabeth have lacked affordable transit options, particularly to Newark Liberty and New York City. This project is an example of government at its best by figuring out a way to deliver a project faster and for less money while also putting thousands of well-paying jobs within reach. Newark Liberty itself serves as a powerful economic engine for the region, with about 19,250 people directly employed at the airport.”
“This Board action enables the agency to move forward with plans to connect the surrounding communities of Newark Liberty with an enhanced transit network that is accessible, integrated, efficient and sustainable,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “This project can help alleviate inequities in the transportation system caused by transit structures that obstruct rather than facilitate easy connections, including in this case one-seat rides into Manhattan.”
“The Board of Commissioners’ diligence in meticulous planning and design is entirely in keeping with the way Newark has been moving forward for years. We appreciate the importance of collecting hard data and harnessing knowledge to maximize a positive impact on our quality of life,” said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “This project benefits all passengers going in and out of Newark Liberty Airport, but I especially commend Port Authority and its partners for their dedication to the residents of our South and East wards who will enjoy access to fast, affordable, state-of-the-art commuter rail transportation. Contributing to a more robust economy and job market in Newark, this project is as much an economic imperative as it is a moral imperative – and we are grateful for the Board’s commitment to equity and equality.”
“I applaud the Port Authority of NY/NJ for taking this critical step, as opening up access is the start of creating economic opportunities for residents in the South Ward,” said Newark Councilman Patrick Council. “This venture will also help create travel options that will satisfy a need in the community and be welcoming to residents and visitors alike.”
“We are excited by the proposed $12 million in Port Authority funding to initiate design work on the community access project to the Northeast Corridor station at the airport,” said William O’Dea, executive director of the Elizabeth Development Company. “Linking working class neighborhoods to easy access to New York City and several other urban areas in New Jersey is critical to advancing economic and employment opportunities for these residents. We are also hopeful that the project itself will create opportunities for local MWBEs and result in community givebacks.”
“New Jerseyans, particularly residents of Newark, Elizabeth and the surrounding local communities, deserve secure, reliable and affordable public transportation so they can safely access Newark Liberty International Airport and New York City through Newark Amtrak and NJ Transit stations,” said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez. “These critical infrastructure investments are necessary to ensure all communities, especially those traditionally underserved, remain connected in a swift and cost-effective manner that also creates thousands of good-paying jobs. I applaud the Port Authority for taking this initial step and look forward to working with them to turn this project into a reality.”
“Many New Jerseyans, especially in communities in and around Newark, rely on affordable, accessible public transit to get to the airport, New York City, and other parts of our region,” said U.S. Sen. Cory Booker. “I am encouraged by the Port Authority’s commitment to improving access to Newark airport and Newark Penn Station for residents of Newark’s South Ward and northern parts of Elizabeth. Infrastructure projects like this should strive to enhance regional connectivity, save New Jerseyans time and money, and increase economic opportunity.”
“I am pleased that the Port Authority is expanding community access to the Newark Airport train station,” said U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr. “I have been working to get federal funds to expand the station’s access and this project will help workers in my district get to their airport and rail service jobs faster. Right now, residents in Newark’s South Ward and North Elizabeth require a lengthy bus ride before they can board trains. I wrote a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently to support the Port Authority’s grant application to make this project a reality. I look forward to working with federal and local officials to help the Port Authority continue to make travel more efficient for all area passengers.”
“The EWR Station Access Project will make a marked improvement in the lives of Elizabeth and Newark residents who utilize Newark Liberty International Airport’s AirTrain Newark Rail Link Station,” said U.S. Rep. Rob Menendez. “This project will provide our residents with expanded access to the airport, as well as NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak trains, making it easier for them to get where they need to go. Thank you to Governor Murphy, the Port Authority, its dedicated Board led by Chairman O’Toole, and its incredible staff for investing in our district and our communities.”
“Today the Port Authority has made a profound investment in both the city of Newark and the region as a whole,” said New Jersey Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz. “For many years, the Legislature has worked to ensure that communities such as the South Ward be considered as high priority areas and included in the Port Authority’s multi-phase plan. With this investment, many lives will be changed by improving transit access and connectivity for so many families. This will create a stronger and more vibrant economic development footprint. It will afford families greater accessibility and opportunities. Change is possible, and today, we celebrate on a promise delivered.”
“Public transportation is about moving people around in a more efficient, affordable manner,” said New Jersey State Senator Joseph Cryan. “The Newark (EWR) station Access Project will provide the residents of Elizabeth and Newark a one-seat ride into NYC and easier access to Newark Liberty airport for commuters and travelers alike. I am grateful that the PANYNJ has recognized the transportation needs of my constituents in District 20 and is moving forward with a commonsense plan.”
“The Newark Liberty International Airport Access Project at NEC is both welcome and long awaited by the residents who live adjacent to the airport but have not had easy access to it. For the local community members who either work at the airport, or who fly out of it, this project meets the need and provides a significant benefit. I look forward to working with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on the EWR redevelopment as it plans for the future. The Access Project is an important first step,” said New Jersey Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin.
“As an assemblywoman in the 29th Legislative District, I am excited to see the improvements that are being made by the Port Authority Board of Commissioners to increase access to public transportation to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). This new initiative would play an important role for New Jerseyans who are unable to drive, including those without access to personal vehicles, elderly individuals and individuals with disabilities. The EWR Station Access will result in less pollution resulting in improved air quality, fewer cars on the road, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This project is important and necessary in the city of Newark and I look forward to seeing the EWR Station Access plan implemented,” said New Jersey Assemblywoman Shanique Speight.
“Investments in accessible transportation are critical to ensuring all of our communities have the ability to thrive. Whether it’s improving access to get to the airport, or bringing down commute times, the Port Authority’s ongoing work to improve community connectivity to historically disadvantaged communities is an exciting show of progress for our communities,” said New Jersey Assemblywoman Annette Quijano.
“Great things are achieved when we invest in creating opportunities for everyone, especially those who have been underserved. The $12 million investment for the EWR Station Access Project is not just about improving public transit access, it’s a big win because it’s also about creating a pathway for success in Newark and Elizabeth. Investments in projects that uplift and empower our community builds a brighter future for all,” said New Jersey Assemblyman Reginald Atkins.
“The EWR Station Access Project is a vital step towards improving access to Newark Liberty Airport, downtown Newark and New York City. Improving mobility in Newark’s Dayton neighborhood is also critical to increasing economic opportunity for one of the lowest-income communities in the region. RPA applauds the Port Authority for prioritizing this investment and maintaining the option of a PATH extension to the station at a future date,” said Tom Wright, CEO and President of Regional Plan Association.
The scope of authorized work includes the development of project concepts and progress of design for selected alternatives, National Environmental Policy Act review, as well as cost estimating and construction scheduling services to develop and refine project cost and schedule baselines. Plans also include support for extensive external stakeholder outreach with an emphasis on seeking input from the surrounding community, the analysis of project delivery approaches and legal services to support due diligence and right of entry for property acquisition.
The EWR Station Access Project, which increases public transit access to Newark Penn Station, significantly reduces travel time for Newark and Elizabeth residents to/from New York City or Newark Liberty, particularly when local traffic conditions are unreliable. The plan will also advance goals to support safe and efficient access to the existing transit services for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as via personal vehicles, public buses, shuttles, for-hire vehicles and taxis. The project will also provide ease of connection for local residents who are airport employees and travelers.
Comparatively, it can take Newark and Elizabeth residents about 40 minutes to reach EWR via bus, whereas the trip from Amtrak and NJT’s co-located Newark International Airport station on their Northeast Corridor (NEC) lines to AirTrain Newark takes only about 9 minutes, or rail trips to Newark Penn Station on existing trains from the NEC station link reliably take about 7 minutes. The project will also improve connections to PATH train service from Newark Penn Station for access to job centers in Jersey City and Manhattan, while spurring transit-oriented development around the NEC station serving the airport consistent with local community-driven planning efforts.
EWR access has been a vocal request of community members for many years, most recently expressed during the agency’s EWR Vision Plan community outreach sessions. The plan serves as a framework for future development through 2065 and makes recommendations for both short- and long-term projects while emphasizing EWR as a world-class gateway for New Jersey. Under the plan, EWR will provide long-term economic growth, incorporate sustainability projects in every element of the development plan, and provide multimodal access, such as this project, to the airport for both work and travel.
The EWR Station Access Project was engineered to deliver many of the community benefits of a PATH rail extension to the AirTrain Newark Rail Link station faster and at a significantly reduced cost. The PATH rail extension, as originally outlined in the agency’s 2017-2026 Capital Plan, relies on more than $700 million in anticipated grants that have yet to be secured. The EWR Station Access Project is preliminarily estimated to cost $125 million (subject to change based on the results of the planning work authorized today). With the EWR Station Access project capable of delivering the PATH rail extension’s ambitions for local community access to New York City and Newark Liberty, and the current funding shortfall for the project, the PATH rail extension is being deferred to a future capital plan.
The airport contributes more than $29.3 billion in annual economic activity to the New York-New Jersey metropolitan region, supporting more than 128,000 total jobs and nearly $10.8 billion in annual wages.
While the planning, environmental review, design, public outreach and participation processes continue, the Port Authority will seek federal grant funding and value-capture opportunities for the EWR Station Access Project. As part of the project financial plan, the agency has applied for $45 million in construction grant funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Grant Program.
For details on the EWR Station Access Project, please click here.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is a bi-state agency that builds, operates, and maintains many of the most important transportation and trade infrastructure assets in the country. For over a century, the agency’s network of major airports; critical bridges, tunnels and bus terminals; a commuter rail line; and the busiest seaport on the East Coast has been among the most vital in the country – transporting hundreds of millions of people and moving essential goods into and out of the region. The Port Authority also owns and manages the 16-acre World Trade Center campus, which today welcomes tens of thousands of office workers and millions of annual visitors. The agency’s historic $37 billion 10-year capital plan includes unprecedented transformation of the region’s three major airports – LaGuardia, Newark Liberty and JFK – as well as an array of other new and upgraded assets, including the $2 billion renovation of the 90-year-old George Washington Bridge. The Port Authority’s annual budget of $8 billion includes no tax revenue from either the states of New York or New Jersey or from the City of New York. The agency raises the necessary funds for the improvement, construction or acquisition of its facilities primarily on its own credit. For more information, visit www.panynj.gov or check out the Now Arriving blog.