Newark officials blast controversial axing of South Ward PATH station

By Larry Higgs | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on January 18, 2017

Mayor Ras Baraka called on the Port Authority to restore plans to build a station in the city's South Ward as part of a proposed $1.7 billion extension of the PATH rail system to Newark Airport.

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Newark officials are taking aim at the Port Authority's decision not to build a PATH station in the city's South Ward as part of a proposed extension of the rail line from to Newark Airport.

Mayor Ras J. Baraka called on the authority's board to not vote on a proposed $32 billion capital plan, which would fund the PATH extension, unless it contains the South Ward station. The board is scheduled to vote on the plan on Feb. 16.

Port Authority officials told a Legislative Oversight Committee on Tuesday that building the station wasn't financially feasible because it would require moving lanes of McCarter Highway to make room for it along the Northeast Corridor line, which the $1.7 billion extension would parallel.

"I do not accept the testimony of Port Authority officials at yesterday's state legislative hearing as the final word on this issue," Baraka said in a statement. "From the very beginning, an important part of the rationale for building the PATH extension to Newark Airport has been the increased jobs and economic revitalization will be created by a station in the South Ward."

South Ward Councilman John Sharpe James called the decision "a travesty" to bypass the highest populated region of the city, one that ignores recommendations of a Regional Plan Association study.

"I am appalled that the Port Authority would throw aside this extensive study at the twelfth hour," James said in a statement. "We must make every effort to ensure the station is included."

Port Authority officials said they informed city and community leaders of the decision in the summer, but added there could be an opportunity to build a South Ward station at a later date.

Some lawmakers said at the hearing that they weren't sure if they could support the PATH extension without the South Ward station. Baraka urged Port Authority officials to work with federal and state lawmakers to finding funding for the station.

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