By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
Behind Red Bull Arena in Harrison sits the maintenance yard of the PATH system.
The night of Superstorm Sandy, the South Yard flooded, the maintenance shop flooded, 54 PATH cars were damaged along with electrical substations and signal systems farther up the line. A temporary sea wall is in place now.
$32 million for a permanent sea wall is part of today’s $255 million grant to the Port Authority from the Federal Transit Administration in Washington. Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye and Senator Bob Menendez made the announcement.
“In total PATH experienced as a result of the wrath of that storm $2 billion in damage. As a result of the leadership of Senator Menendez and Congressman Sires PATH has received, and will receive today’s $250 million installment is a large piece of it, about 1.3 billion from the FTA, which as the senator mentioned is part of the United States Department of Transportation,” Foye said.
“Our region is the mass transportation hub of America, with over 3.5 billion trips each year, more than one-third of the total transit trips taken nationwide. As a matter of fact, the Executive Director came over on the PATH to come to the press conference. Nowhere is it more important to invest in transit than here,” Menendez said.
The Hoboken terminal was severely flooded by Sandy and is still corroded from salt water; it will receive some of today’s funding. For awhile its elevator didn’t work.
“I took a tour of the Hoboken PATH and saw that elevator with Vice President Biden and Mayor Zimmer and when you look at the damage that was done with salt water on all of the ancient electrical parts that were part of the tunnel there, you wonder are they ever, ever going to be able to fix all that?” said Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise.
Foye said the PATH system is healthy now and at peak ridership.
Harrison station, where the press conference was held, also sits across from the soccer arena. The entire area is undergoing an impressive redevelopment, mainly housing and a hotel.
“I’ve been coming to Harrison since I was in high school, and I can tell you it did not look like this when I was coming here years ago,” Sires said.
Three years seems like a long time for Sandy relief money to arrive for repairs to the PATH system. Menendez says that’s how long it takes to uncover the needs of the system and make the case to Washington.