Christie announces half-billion dollar Port Newark expansion

NEWARK – Gov. Chris Christie announced a half-billion-dollar private investment at the Port Newark Container Terminal today, a private-public partnership with no state financial assistance, doubling the container capacity of the port over the next 20 years.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey approved a restructured lease for Port Newark Container Terminal (PNCT) that includes more than 100 acres of expansion.

Christie said the project will create nearly 800 jobs, and generate 1,450 jobs overall for New Jersey.

“We need to upgrade our facilities,” Christie said. Coupled with the raising of the Bayonne Bridge to accommodate larger ships, Christie said this shows the state is sincere about investing in Port Newark, the “single most important engine for New Jersey’s continued economic growth.” The port is the largest on the East Coast, handling 31 percent of all cargo.

As far as direct state involvement in this project, Christie said, “We’re going to have the Port Authority play a key role in this.”

Chris Ward, executive director of the Port Authority, mentioned the Bayonne Bridge plans, attention to building a modern freight rail system, and acquisition of new dock property as ways the agency was attending to the Port Newark area. Ward said, “This is the definition of a public-private partnership,” but said of Christie, “We are here because of his leadership.”

Christie also said New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been a “good, able partner” in working through the Port Authority.

Congratulating the project stakeholders – Christie in particular – for labor considerations, Ray Pacino, a Port Authority commissioner, but also vice president of the Laborers International Union of North America, praised the 350 construction jobs, and other commitments to organized labor.

“In that role, I certainly realize that these economic times are tough,” Pacino said. “It’s 350 construction jobs…sorely needed. That’s the human side of this project.”

“It’s gonna add promise and hope in the lives of working people, men and women…It’s about leadership form Gov. Christie and the Port Authority…He wants to put people back to work in New Jersey, and he’s doing it.”

PNCT will increase cargo volumes at the port from 414,000 containers to 1.1 million by 2030. Ports America is the private operator of PNCT, and CEO Michael Hassing said there will be an “infusion of significant capital” and no interruption of service.

The total investment is an “anticipated” $500 million by 2030, with $50 million coming in the next few months. The expansion will also increase cargo container volumes from the Mediterranean Shipping Company, the world’s second largest shipping company.

Of the $500 million private investment, Christie said, “We are changing the image of this state from a business-unfriendly state to a business-friendly one…And we’re doing it different than they’re doing it in other states in the country and definitely doing differently than they’re doing it in Washington, D.C., right now.”

“We have a lot more work to do,” Christie said, while touting his administration’s creation of 30,000 new private-sector jobs from June 2010 to June 2011, the “best one-year period since 2005.”

“When you look at the commerce that comes through this port,” he said, the jobs that are generated as a result, “Downstream it’s a geometric increase.”

He said the state would be committed to “give the type of incentive that needs to be given” in the future to ensure its viability.

“Thirty thousand jobs in the last 12 months,” he said. “We’ve shed 34,000 public-sector jobs.” That’s exactly what he told the people he would do, he said, “Shrink the size of government at every level and increase the amount of private-sector employment.”

Christie announces half-billion dollar Port Newark expansion