Eustace Bill Would Urge Port Authority to Create ‘Host Community Bill of Rights’ to Protect Residents & Businesses

Cites Bridgegate Incident as Example of Need to Increase PANYNJ Transparency & Accountability

Legislation Assemblyman Tim Eustace sponsored to urge the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to improve the way it treats its host communities – especially after the so-called Bridgegate incident in 2013 – was released Monday by an Assembly committee.

The bill (AR-127) urges the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to establish a Host Community Bill of Rights.

“Disruptions in normal operations at port authority facilities directly impact the communities that serve as hosts,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “It’s not too much to ask the Port Authority to changes its ways and treat residents and businesses the right way.”

Eustace noted, for instance, how in September 2013, the Port Authority reassigned access lanes from the host community of Fort Lee to the George Washington Bridge without providing notice to commuters or officials, which caused considerable traffic delays, significantly inconvenienced motorists and impaired public safety in Fort Lee and the surrounding area.

“The incident highlighted serious issues with the management and operations at the Port Authority and underscored the need for greater transparency and public input, particularly from the host communities,” Eustace said. “It’s in everyone’s best interest for the Port Authority to establish a Host Community Bill of Rights to increase communication between the port authority and host communities and boost the accountability of the port authority to the public at large.”

The port authority was created to coordinate and further the development of transportation and commercial facilities within the port district, which comprises the New Jersey counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset and Union; and the New York counties of Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester and New York City.

Under the bill, a Host Community Bill of Rights would:
· Establish a Port Authority Advisory Committee made up of elected officials from each host community, which shall meet bi-monthly with port authority commissioners and executive staff;
· Establish a Port Authority Public Safety Task Force made up of elected officials from each host community, which shall meet monthly with port authority executive staff and other port authority staff responsible for public safety;
· Require the Port Authority to provide notice to the elected officials from a host community at least one week prior to any change in normal procedures, public transit schedules, or traffic patterns within the host community;
· Require the Port Authority to provide notice to the elected officials from a host community at least one week prior to any planned activities at port facilities that may impact the host community;
· Require the Port Authority to provide notice to the elected officials from a host community within 30 minutes of any emergency situation that may have an impact on normal procedures, public transit schedules, or traffic patterns within the host community; and
· Require the Port Authority to provide the elected officials from each host community, at least two times per year, a list of all infrastructure projects of the port authority, which shall include a detailed explanation of the need for each project, cost of each project, and anticipated impact that each project will have on the host community.

The bill was released by the Assembly transportation committee.