Volume 7 | Issue 3 | Year 2004

The movement of people, services and goods is the job of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, an entity that oversees – or is connected to – a complex network of industrial parks, waterways, highways, a major international airport and transportation hubs, freight and shipping terminals. It is a dynamic organization that supports the region in both commercial trade and jobs.
And if you’re looking to do business within the New York-New Jersey metropolitan region, the Port Authority – its operation and its infrastructure – is ready to supply needed services and support. The area is, in essence, the gateway to the world.

It also is a venerable organization, founded, you could say, as part of a compromise between two states that both wanted control of the waters and land that would become a gold mine for commerce.

Forming a union
Geo-politically driven, the creation of the Port Authority occurred in 1921 after a common port area was divided between what became New York and New Jersey, leading both states to quarrel throughout the 19th century over their common harbor and waterways. The tensions were so extreme that a dispute over the boundary line through the harbor and the Hudson, finally settled by the Treaty of 1834, once led state police to exchange shots in the middle of the river.

Eventually, the states found a governmental model for port management in the Port of London, what was then the only public authority in the world. On April 30, 1921, The Port of New York Authority was established as the first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere and the first interstate agency created under a clause of the Constitution permitting compacts between states. Growing to include such landmarks as the Holland Tunnel and George Washington Bridge, the Port Authority, in the 1970s and 1980s, helped advance the region’s interests through port and trade promotion and construction of the World Trade Center. Other achievements included development of industrial parks; a business park and satellite communications center on Staten Island; and a legal center and resource recovery facility in Newark.

In the years since its inception the Port Authority, with gross operating revenues of $2.87 billion, has become a financially self-supporting public agency that receives no tax revenues from any state or local jurisdiction and has no power to tax. It relies almost entirely on revenues generated by facility users, tolls, fees, and rents.

Paved in gold
The infrastructure within the Port Authority’s purview is known as one of the most valuable resources in the world. Within this network is The Port of New York/New Jersey, the largest port complex on the East Coast of North America. Thousands of trucking companies serve the Port of New York/New Jersey providing quality handling and responsive service from pickup to delivery. In addition, the installation of an Automated Cargo Expediting System (ACES®) and SEA LINK® Driver Identification Program has enhanced security and speed cargo processing.

In 2002, the Port of New York/New Jersey handled 21.6 million tons of general cargo including more than 3.7 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) of containerized cargo. According to 2003 international trade statistics, the largest port on the east coast of North America saw its container volumes grow by more than 8 percent and the value of total cargo in the port increased nearly 12 percent. For the first time in the Port of New York and New Jersey’s history, the total value of all cargo surpassed the $100 billion mark. According to the U.S. Bureau of Census, the total value of all cargo that passed through the port in 2003 was $100.36 billion, an 11.7 percent increase over the $89.8 billion total cargo value in 2002.

To support the breadth of trade activities within its boundaries, The Port Authority recently launched a billion-dollar port redevelopment program that calls for rehabilitating, expanding and creating additional capacity. Included in the package, explains Dan Maynard of the public affairs office, is an allotment of $280 million over the next five years to expand and strengthen the wharf, and increase harbor depth to make the port competitive for larger container ships. A total of $28 million has been earmarked to make the area safer – both for people as well as goods traveling in and around the ports – in the aftermath of 9/11. An additional $213 million is targeted for rail improvements such as the addition of terminals in the intermodal facilities, especially important in light of the fact that at Port Newark the express rail terminal has grown from handling 150,000 containers a year to more than 200,000. Also planned are improvements at Highland Hook Marine Terminal, which includes a new intermodal rail facility.

Ports of call
Important to the vitality of the commercial trade are Port Newark and the Elizabeth Port Authority Marine Terminal; each operates as one fully integrated marine terminal, forming the largest and most comprehensive collection of maritime cargo handling facilities on the East Coast of North America. Located on the western shore of Newark Bay in Essex and Union counties in New Jersey, the Newark/Elizabeth facility encompasses a full range of maritime commerce activities: major container handling terminals, automobile processing and storage facilities, liquid and solid bulk terminals, breakbulk facilities, warehousing and distribution buildings, trucking firms, and an on-dock rail terminal.

In particular, Elizabeth is often dubbed “America’s Containership Capital.” It supports 23 container cranes serving three fully equipped containership terminals, 16 distribution buildings with more than two million square feet of space, and numerous other terminal buildings. Maersk Sealand operates a terminal with seven cranes on 232 acres, including 4,519 feet of wharf. Maher Terminals Inc., the port’s largest container terminal operator, runs two terminals with a total of 7,350 feet of berthing space, approximately 453 acres of upland area, miscellaneous buildings and 14 container cranes.

Approximately 300 acres at the Port Newark/Elizabeth marine terminal complex are devoted to automobile/vehicle importing/ exporting and processing. In 2000, the Port of New York/New Jersey handled 564,718 vehicles: 527,822 imports and 36,896 exports.

Industrial might
The Port Authority is also involved in the development and/or management of real estate projects that help to enhance the economic competitiveness of the New York/New Jersey Port Region. These projects include:

  • Bathgate: A joint development of The Port Authority and the City of New York through its Economic Development Corporation, Bathgate has been a catalyst for economic growth and development in The Bronx since it opened in 1982. The 21.5-acre park covers 12 city blocks and currently contains eight buildings. The facility offers 522,000 square feet of space for light industrial, distribution, office and educational uses.
  • Industrial Park at Elizabeth: Located in the middle of New York and New Jersey’s vast transportation complex, with direct access to the New Jersey Turnpike, the Elizabeth park is a 71-acre suburban-style mixed-use facility that includes both retail and industrial space. It is adjacent to the Port Newark/Elizabeth Marine Terminal and Newark Liberty International Airport. Elizabeth’s Urban Enterprise Zone status offers qualified companies various tax benefits. Companies in the park may also be eligible for inclusion in Foreign Trade Zone #49, which can result in lowered or deferred U.S. Customs duties.

As these resources contribute to the economic health of the nation, they also serve the New York/New Jersey region well, ensuring the fluid transportation of goods and services to the end user, who is, ultimately, the consumer. “We serve the largest most affluent market in North America where there is never an end to the demand for international goods,” Maynard stresses. “It is important that we have the necessary infrastructure in place to meet the demands of the modern international shipping community.”

For further information, visit the Authority Web site, www.panynj.gov.