AFTER ALL-OUT PUSH, SCHUMER ANNOUNCES U.S. COAST GUARD HAS TODAY ISSUED PERMIT SO GOETHALS BRIDGE REPLACEMENT PROJECT CAN MOVE FORWARD ON SCHEDULE; TIMELY PERMIT WILL SAVE THOUSANDS OF JOBS AND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS
BrU.S. Coast Guard Was Delaying the Review of Critical Permits Needed to Keep Goethals Bridge Replacement Project on Track; Feds Said Project Wasnt a PriorityBrBrBrAfter Schumers Push, Coast Guard Expedited Review of Bridge Permit Application and Issued Permit Today; After Phone Calls from Schumer and Personal Meetings, Agency Pulled All the Stops to Have Permits Approved By Port Authoritys September 30th DeadlineWill Bring in Additional Staff From Other Projects So Goethals Bridge Project Can M
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that, after his push, the U.S. Coast Guard has issued a permit to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's (PANYNJ) for the Goethals Bridge Replacement Project. The announcement comes just in time to meet the PANYNJ's deadline in order for the project to move along as originally planned. Despite previous assurances that the bridge permit would be approved by the Port Authority's September 30 th deadline, the PANYNJ was recently told that the permit would not be issued until late October, creating an overall delay of up to six months. Schumer today announced that, after bringing attention to the issue and writing to the USCG, the agency expedited the review of the application and has issued the permit.
In a meeting with the Coast Guard Admiral last week, Schumer was given a commitment from the agency that additional staff from other bridge programs will be recruited to review the PANYNJ's permit in time for the September 30 th deadline.
"Let construction and job creation begin!" said Schumer. "The U.S. Coast Guard has now made good on their commitment to pulling out all the stops, and got this permit approved in time to keep the Goethals Bridge project on track. The Goethals Bridge replacement is a priority for Staten Island and a priority for New York. Thousands of jobs are linked to this important project and now that the U.S. Coast Guard is committed to keeping the project on schedule, we can rest assured because these jobs are no longer in danger. When it comes to job growth and traffic reduction, the Coast Guard is now agreeing that we can't wait a minute longer than necessary."
The Goethals Bridge connects the Staten Island Expressway, the VerrazanoNarrows Bridge, the New Jersey Turnpike, Routes 1 and 9 and other New Jersey highways. In April, the PANYNJ authorized an award of $1.5 billion PublicPrivate Partnership to NYNJ Link Partnership to provide the design, build, finance and maintenance for the replacement of the Goethals Bridge.
The Goethals Bridge Replacement Project involves creating a new bridge south of the existing 80year old bridge. The project is expected to create more than 2,250 construction jobs. The new bridge will have six travel lanes, a 12foot wide outer shoulder, a 10foot wide bikeway and a central area sufficient to accommodate the provision of future transit service. The new bridge is expected to ease congestion on Staten Island. In order for the PANYNJ to move forward with the project, a bridge permit is needed from the USCG. According to the USCG, a bridge permit is needed for any individuals, partnership, corporation or local state or federal legislative body, agency or authority planning to construct or modify a bridge or causeway across a navigable waterway of the United States.
The PANYNJ submitted its bridge permit application to the USCG in June 2010 and after some back and forth, the permit was said to be issued July 2013. The project deadline requires receipt of all permits by September 30 th and so the assurance of July was onschedule.
The PANYNJ was recently informed by the USCG that the permit would be issued in October. The consequences of this delay in the bridge permit to the Goethals Bridge Replacement project are significant. If the bridge permit is not received by the end of September, it could potentially delay the overall project by up to six months due to other factors involved. For example, this coming December, the Developer was planning to install cofferdams in the bridge waterway to allow work to continue during the "winter flounder" ban on inwater work that begins on January 1. Without the permit and the cofferdams in place before the environmental window closes, work will be delayed until late spring 2014.
The U.S. Coast Guard previously said they can only review one permit at a time and this project is not a priority.
Earlier this month, Schumer called on the USCG to expedite the review of the PANYNJ's bridge permit application so that the Goethals Bridge Replacement project can move forward as planned.
Today, Schumer announced that the USCG has heeded his call and issued the bridge permit on time, before the end of September deadline.
A copy of Schumer's original letter is below:
Dear Acting Secretary Beers,
I write today to urge your assistance in expediting the review of a critical bridge permit application submitted by the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey (PANYNJ) for the new Goethals Bridge project. It has come to my attention that despite assurances that the permit would be processed and a decision rendered by the end of August, the PANYNJ has been told that the permit review could drag out well into October, potentially delaying the construction of the project into mid2014 and costing Port Authority facility users tens of millions of dollars in additional costs. In addition, the creation of hundreds of goodpaying construction jobs would be delayed. After many months of good faith negotiations and due diligence on the part of both the PANYNJ and the regional staff of the United States Coast Guard in New York, it is only fair that this permit review being immediately executed by Coast Guard headquarters and finalized in time for begin construction this year.
Port Authority received final binding bids for the $1.5 billion Goethals Bridge Replacement Project in March 2013. 'NYNJ Link' - a partnership of Kiewit and Macquarie - was the winning lowbid developer. The project is being funded by significant developer equity, a USDOT TIFIA loan of approximately $500 million, and approximately $500 million privateactivity bonds, pending bridge permit approval from the USCG. The current project deadline requires receipt of all permits by Sept 30 th. Unfortunately, US Coast Guard staff has reported to my office and the Port Authority that they will not be able to provide the permit until late October at the earliest, which will have significant negative consequences for the Project.
The PA originally submitted its Bridge Permit application to the Coast Guard in June 2010, and was originally told the permit would be approved once New York and New Jersey water quality certifications were completed in October 2012. However, in June of 2013, the Federal Highway Administration became the lead Federal agency because the Goethals project was utilizing a TIFIA loan and the PANYNJ reexecuted their application. The Port Authority has been in constant dialogue with Regional Coast Guard officials on the project and our timetable, and previously received verbal assurances that the USCG permit would be received by July 31 st.
The consequences of any further delay in the Bridge permit to the Goethals Project past September 2013 are significant. If the bridge permit is not received by end of September, the project schedule may slip by up to 6 months. The reason for the 6 month project delay arising from a 24 week permit delay is that the Developer had been planning on installing cofferdams in December in the bridge waterway to allow work to continue during the "winter flounder" ban on inwater work that begins January 1 st. Without the cofferdams in place, work cannot take place until late spring 2014. The Port Authority is financially responsible for such a delay to the project, which could run in the tens of millions of dollars.
The Goethals Bridge PPP is critical for the greater metropolitan New York region. It is a functionally obsolete bridge whose replacement has been over a decade in the making. It is a critical artery on the I278 corridor, both for freight movement and passenger traffic. The project is also the first surface transportation publicprivate partnership in the entire Northeast region. Thousands of jobs are also linked to the $1.5 billion replacement construction project and the federal government is already heavily invested in its success. I implore you to do everything in your power to finish this review in September of 2013.
If you have any questions, please contact Gerry Petrella in my Washington, D.C. office.
Charles E. Schumer
Previous Article Next Article