N.Y, N.J. lawmakers ask Christie to sign Port Authority reform

Myles Ma, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

FORT LEE —State legislators from New Jersey and New York on Wednesday called on Gov. Chris Christie to sign legislation that would overhaul the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Transparency and Accountability Act would give legislatures from each state oversight of the agency.

The New Jersey legislature sent the bill to Christie's desk April 7.

A similar bill was signed into law in New York. In addition to giving both legislatures the right to summon Port Authority leaders to committee hearings twice a year, some of the bill's provisions would:

• Require an independent assessment and six public meetings before any increase in tolls at Port Authority bridges or tunnels.

• Require all Port Authority meetings to be open to the public.

• Require public hearings in each state before the adoption of a new 10-year capital plan, plus public hearings every three years to give updates on all projects.

• Require independent monitoring of all capital projects costing more than $500 million.

• Requires the Port Authority to publish an annual financial report and subject itself to an annual independent audit.

Bergen County Democrats Sen. Bob Gordon, Sen. Loretta Weinberg and Assemblywoman Valerie Vanieri Huttle joined New York State Assemblyman Jim Brennan, also a Democrat, in Fort Lee Wednesday to call on Christie to sign the bill. The New Jersey bill goes further than the New York law. Brennan has advanced legislation to match the New Jersey bill.

Christie spokesman Brian Murray told NJ Advance Media that the governor would sign a bill, advanced by Sen. Tom Kean that matches Brennan's original bill that became law in New York.

"The Governor has been strongly supportive of Senator Kean's legislative effort to enact the standard of reforms outlined by Governor Christie and Governor Cuomo nearly two years ago," Murray said. "That legislation already has been adopted in New York and has been awaiting action by New Jersey's legislature."

Gordon said it's a critical time for the Port Authority, with the agency playing a role in major projects, including a new Port Authority Bus Terminal and a new trans-Hudson rail tunnel.

"These projects are critical to New Jersey's future, and it is crucial that we have the ability to monitor the cost and progress of these and other projects on an ongoing basis in the years ahead," he said.