Assemblymember Michael Reilly (R-South Shore) announced this morning that his legislation, requiring the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to study the alignment of the Outerbridge Crossing, has cleared a major hurdle on the path to becoming a law by passing the State Assembly. It is Reilly's first major legislative accomplishment as a Member of the State Assembly, to which he was elected last November.
Reilly's bill, A. 6994-A, would require the Port Authority to study the alignment of the Outerbridge Crossing as part of their on-going assessment to replace the nearly one hundred year old span that connects New York to New Jersey via State Route 440. In 2018, the Port Authority announced it had secured $230 million in funding to conduct a detailed condition assessment, life cost analysis, and a traffic demand analysis, in addition to an environmental impact study and preliminary design; however, those assessments do not take into consideration which properties may need to be acquired in order to accommodate the span's replacement.
"The Port Authority's on-going assessment does not take into consideration which properties need to be acquired to accommodate a replacement of the span," said Reilly. "Though the design is still a work in progress, I am willing to bet that the most practical execution of this project would involve building a new span next to the existing one, before the old one is eventually removed. Sure, the traffic demand analysis will help them figure out how big the new span will be, but it won't tell them how much room they have to build."
Reilly continued, "My legislation would make them identify properties around the existing span which may need to be acquired, and help them factor that additional cost into the design and construction of a new Outerbridge."
Reilly's bill, which passed with support from Assemblymembers Michael Cusick, Charles Fall, and Nicole Malliotakis, would need to clear several more hurdles before becoming law. Reilly plans to focus on addressing the following hurdles throughout the summer, just in time for the start of session next year:
- Pass the New York State Senate: Senator Andrew Lanza currently carries the "same-as" version of Reilly's bill in that chamber.
- Since the Port Authority is a bi-state quasi-agency, the legislation needs to pass both houses of the New Jersey State Legislature.
- Be signed into law by both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Governor Phil Murphy after passage by their state's respective legislative bodies.
"I know that my constituents were optimistic last year after hearing that the Port Authority had started the process to replace the Outerbridge, especially since many of them had experienced massive traffic delays which occurred each weekend throughout the summer," said Reilly. "The reality is that this traffic nightmare impacts the entire region, but if we get this right and make sure that the designers and builders have all the information they need to build a big, beautiful new bridge that can accommodate a much greater flow of traffic, then that would have such a positive impact on our region. That's why I am hopeful that my colleagues from New Jersey will be cooperative in addressing this minor oversight in the Port Authority's plan."