HACKENSACK – Bergen County Freeholder Jim Tedesco and state Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D-38) advocated measures designed to promote greater transparency by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey at a Hackensack press conference on Friday.
“Lots of folks commute here in Hackensack from Bergen County to their jobs in the city. It would be nice if we all knew what was going on, and maybe we won’t have the disaster we had last year,” said Eustace, standing outside the Hackensack bus terminal as he referred to the September 2013 George Washington Bridge access lane closures that later came to be known as the Bridgegate scandal.
Eustace is the author and co-sponsor of the proposed A-3289 bill, which would require the Port Authority, which administers the George Washington Bridge among other bridges and tunnels, to report monthly to county authorities within the authority’s jurisdiction. According to the proposed bill, the monthly report should provide a list of planned Port Authority activities or changes in normal operations at any Port Authority facility that may impact the counties and municipalities within the port district.
The monthly report should also provide a list of proposed Port Authority infrastructure projects and a detailed explanation that identifies the need for each project, the cost of each project, and the anticipated impact of the project on the counties and municipalities within the port district, according to the proposed legislation.
Tedesco authored a complimentary county resolution to create a host community bill of rights. Provisions of the resolution include the right of each host municipality and county to appoint an official to an advisory committee that will meet monthly with Port Authority officials. Other provisions include notice to host municipalities and counties one week in advance of planned activities that could disrupt traffic, and 30 minutes notice in the aftermath of an emergency situation.
“There must be greater transparency and accountability at the Port Authority. It’s been a little more than a year after Bridgegate, and we still don’t have all the answers surrounding the controversial lane closures,” said Tedesco, a Democrat, who is challenging Republican incumbent Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan in November. “I was the first public official to call for an investigation into Bridgegate and introduced the community bill of rights shortly after becoming a freeholder. This bill of rights must be adopted by the Port Authority. [Port Authority officials] made a commitment to me and the Bergen County freeholders that we would be included in the reform process. To date, we are still waiting to be contacted.”