Port Authority Reform Bill Introduced With Mixed Reception

The governors of New York and New Jersey on Thursday announced their joint support of legislation to reform the bi-state Port Authority by making it operate more transparently, but some lawmakers argue that the measure falls short of meeting transportation policy needs.

The proposed legislation, which Cuomo and Christie said achieves much-needed reform of the Port Authority, would replace the agency’s executive director and deputy with a new chief executive, prohibit the chairperson and commissioners from simultaneously holding staff positions and rotate the chairmanship every two years between the two states, among other measures, according to Cuomo’s office.

However, New Jersey legislators said they would introduce their own bill later this month, hold hearings with commuters and other stakeholders, and pass the measure later in the year. The two bills would then have to be reconciled, and passed as amended by both legislatures, they said.

Christie, who has faced recent criticism over the George Washington Bridge scandal, which directly involved officials at Port Authority, said in a statement Thursday that the agency’s structure, management, operations and governance are in need of reform to secure its future as a transportation and economic cornerstone. He said the bill includes key elements of the recommendations of a bi-state panel and legislation introduced by New Jersey Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr., R-Union.