Legislation is Designed to Accommodate Expected Influx in Volume from Panama Canal Expansion & Bayonne Bridge Heightening Projects
(TRENTON) – An Assembly panel on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Eliana Pintor Marin and L. Grace Spencer to boost support for Port Newark-Elizabeth in light of the influx in volume expected as the Panama Canal expansion project nears completion.
The bill (A-4082) would establish a “port support zone” surrounding the Port Newark-Elizabeth Port Authority Marine Terminal to assist with the increase in shipping volume at the port that is expected upon the imminent completion of the Panama Canal expansion and the raising of the Bayonne Bridge.
“Essentially, this is a proactive step to accommodate the expected increase in volume at our ports, end bottlenecking, increase efficiency and make sure our operations are flowing 24/7 so we remain competitive with neighboring ports,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex). “These changes will help transform ailing properties, revitalize neighborhoods and provide additional revenue generators for the surrounding communities.”
Currently, large, modern container ships, such as Post-Panamax ships, are not able to enter the port because the navigational height of these ships exceeds the navigational clearance of the Bayonne Bridge. The port support zone includes the area within a five-mile radius of the outermost boundary of the port.
“The legislation is designed to encourage the development of currently unused or contaminated sites in the area surrounding the port,” said Spencer (D-Essex). “These properties could be developed and used to reduce the congestion currently being experienced around the port, which is only expected to increase upon completion of the Panama Canal expansion and the raising of the Bayonne Bridge.”
The bill stipulates that districts located within the support zone that are currently zoned for commercial or industrial purposes cannot be reclassified. Additionally, the bill amends current law to increase the allowable amount of redevelopment incentive grants awarded for qualified projects in the port support zone. The bill provides that any redevelopment incentive grant agreement with a developer for a project within the port support zone shall not exceed 40 percent of the total cost of the project.
The bill directs the Commissioner of Environmental Protection (DEP), in consultation with the Commissioner of Transportation, to identify contaminated sites within the Port support zone and to prioritize those sites based upon their potential for use as warehousing and bulk distribution centers in support of the Port Newark-Elizabeth Port Authority Marine Terminal. The bill directs the DEP to provide properties identified as such with the highest priority for the department to cleanup and remove hazardous substances from those properties
The bill also directs the DEP to expedite any permit process involving the use of dredged materials on property located within the port support zone if the property is being developed for a use to support the port.
The measure was approved by the Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee.