Transportation panel releases port authority worker bill

HOBOKEN – The Assembly Transportation Committee released bills today dealing with port authority worker safety, removing the “state’’ tag from a highway, and naming a highway for an assemblyman who died last year.

A1486: This bill de-designates the portion of Route 24 west of Hanover as a state highway.  Route 24 connects I-287 and I-78. 

The de-designation will make the earmarked land available for other purposes, including open space preservation. 

The bill also repeals the statutes establishing Route 24N west of Phillipsburg.

Sponsor Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll said that he was informed much of the land would no longer be needed for Route 24 expansion. It does not direct giving the land to any entity, it just de-designates it as a state highway.

He said much of the land is environmentally sensitive and would remain open space.

Chair Assemblyman John Wisniewski said that 600 or so acres had been designated for road-building purposes, but a portion is no longer needed for that.

“There is no doubt that much of the land will never be used for anything except open space,’’ Carroll said.

In response to a question, he said he did not believe any of the land was part of the Highlands preservation area.

The bill passed unanimously.

 

A3737: This bill amends the “New Jersey Public Employees’ Occupational Safety and Health Act,” to provide that the definition of “employer” includes any interstate authority that utilizes its own police officers or firefighters.

Currently, the Act specifically excludes any bi-state agency.

Sponsor Assemblyman Thomas Giblin said the purpose is to correct an inequity in safety and health laws for bi-state agency workers – of the port authority, for instance – who are currently uncovered.

Officials from the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association and the Transport Workers Union informed the committee that the Port Authority is the largest employer not covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards, and that its members in some situations are using expired safety gear.

Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula asked, “Why did it take so long? Federal law has been there for a long time.”

The authorities include the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Delaware River Port Authority; the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, the Delaware River and Bay Authority, and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.

It was released unanimously.

 

A3789: This bill designates Route 53 as the “Alex DeCroce Memorial Highway” to honor the memory of Assemblyman Alex DeCroce.

DeCroce served Morris County in numerous public offices, represented the 26th District for 23 years, and upon his death was the longest serving member of the General Assembly.

He passed away on Jan. 9, 2012, at the Statehouse following a lengthy session day. The bill passed unanimously.

Transportation panel releases port authority worker bill