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PA's Chris Ward Statement On Public Hearings

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					              Statement by Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward

Tomorrow, we will be conducting hearings on the Port Authority’s proposed toll and fare
increase to address an immediate financial need that, if not addressed, would hinder our ability
to continue work on current projects, including the completion of the World Trade Center site, as
well as fund a new, ten-year multi-billion capital investment plan to repair and replace an aging
transportation infrastructure that forms the backbone of the region’s economy.

The Port Authority relies on the toll and fare box as the primary way in which the agency funds
its interstate transportation program. As a result of the historic economic recession, those funds
declined sharply from the original projections on which our capital plan was based. Combine
that decline with the tripling of security costs since 9/11, necessary costs to rebuild the World
Trade Center, the need to replace two of the agency’s bridges over the next ten years, and
rehabilitations of key infrastructure components including the Lincoln Tunnel and George
Washington Bridge, and the case for our proposed toll and fare increase becomes clear.

We recognize that the proposed increase is substantial, but it is also absolutely necessary
to ensure the financial strength of the Port Authority and to maintain and grow the critical
transportation infrastructure that serves the bi-state region.

That is why we continue to stand by our proposal of a phased $4 and $2 increase in 2011 and
2014 respectively. This proposed increase will enable us to complete current projects and
execute a $33 billion capital plan that will meet the critical and growing transportation needs of
the region while generating 167,000 jobs and $9.7 billion in wages at a time when our economy
desperately needs an economic engine. Without this increase now, construction of the World
Trade Center site could slow or stop. This is why numerous groups representing workers,
businesses, environmentalists and transportation advocates have endorsed our plan.

The Port Authority’s proposal is now before the public for review. We look forward to the public
hearing process as we continue to make the case for an increase that we firmly believe is
necessary to drive this region forward.

Finally, we understand that both Governors have raised concerns about the extent of the
proposed increases and we will continue to examine all possible funding and rate increase
scenarios. We had considered lesser increases. For example, we had analyzed and discussed
$2 in 2011 and $2 in 2014 respectively; however, we concluded that the two $2 increases would
not provide reasonable assurance that we would not have to go through another toll and fare
hike process in the near future.

This has become even more clear as the economy remains unstable. No one wants to enact
toll increases twice, but a predictable, not volatile, plan for revenue is in the interest of a rational
plan for infrastructure investment.

We look forward to discussing the proposal in detail with the Governors of both states after the
public hearing process.

				
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posted:8/15/2011
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