Home News Sink this pier plan: Port Authority betrays Brooklyn as it skips town

Sink this pier plan: Port Authority betrays Brooklyn as it skips town

We only whip the Port Authority when they deserve it and they deserve a thorough thrashing for abandoning the Brooklyn piers, a portion of which they actually let collapse into the water. Instead of committing to their founding mission, to promote waterborne commerce on both sides of the harbor, they worked the governor and the mayor into a terrible land swap that extricates the PA from Brooklyn.

Despite the celebratory announcement yesterday on the waterfront, this is a lose-lose-lose proposition as the PA is let off the (Red) Hook.

Says who? Jerry Nadler, the dean of the congressional delegation and the recognized expert on integrated transportation. And says a former Portocrat, who bemoans the agency giving up on New York.

Remember, maritime isn’t incidental to the PA’s raison d’etre, as it is called the “Port” Authority. Not the Bus Station Authority or the Airport Authority or the Hudson Bridge and Tunnel Authority or the PATH Train Authority or the World Trade Center Authority. And the maritime focus can’t just be can’t just be Port Newark and Port Elizabeth. At this point, New York has only 15% of the port’s trade. Are they trying to knock it down to zero and give Jersey everything?

Under the swap, the PA will surrender the Red Hook piers to the city and will get in exchange the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island. Yes, yes, we know that Staten Island is in New York, but it is on the west side of the harbor. Brooklyn is the deep water port on the east side of the harbor.

The city’s Economic Development Corp. would be in charge of Red Hook and would look to redevelop the area with perhaps mixed use and parks and housing. Those are all terrific things, but are meant for former industrial tracts that need redevelopment into something else. Red Hook is not formerly industrial. It is still industrial and should stay industrial. This is a working waterfront. It’s not about parks and housing. That the PA has failed to invest in Red Hook shouldn’t mean that it gets taken off their hands.

The PA complains that Red Hook’s transportation modalities are challenging. Well, if the PA had ever built the cross harbor rail freight tunnel it was created to build, Brooklyn would be tied into the national rail network. The tunnel, which Nadler champions, is much more important than the wasteful Gateway passenger tunnel that gets some pols so excited. But unlike commuters, freight doesn’t vote. Freight does however clog up the roads with trucks, a congesting, polluting problem that rail and sea avoid.

New York doesn’t get enough of its goods from its port. Now that will drop even more.

And it’s not even clear what the details are in the deal. Can someone please publish the memorandum of understanding before the boards of the Port and EDC vote on it, which could happen very soon?

Created by New York and its junior partner on the other side of the Hudson in 1921, the legal name of the bistate governmental entity remains the Port of New York Authority, d/b/a the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. After yesterday, why not just drop the “New York” part?


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