PATH extension to Newark airport set for public meetings this week

NEWARK -- The public can weigh in on a plan to extend PATH service to Newark Liberty International Airport at two informational meetings this week in Newark.

The first meeting is scheduled for Tuesday from 5 to 8 p.m, at the Weequahic Park Sports Authority Community Center, 92 Carmichael Drive, Newark. The second is set for the same time on Thursday night, also in Newark, in the Garden State Ballroom of the Hilton Newark Penn Station, at 1048 Raymond Boulevard.

The meetings will be hosted by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to provide details of the project, take public input and answer questions. Comments on the project can be emailed to [email protected] by Dec. 20.

The Port Authority operates the PATH system as well as the airport, and is leading the $1.7 billion project, which began planning in 2012 and is projected for completion in 2026.

The project would extend PATH service about 2 miles west from its current terminus at Newark Penn Station to an existing rail station near the airport along the Northeast Corridor line that now links NJ Transit trains from Newark and New York Penn Stations to the Newark AirTrain monorail. 

The project would also provide Newark's South Ward with a new PATH station that local officials hope would open up commuting and job opportunities, attract new businesses, and encourage economic growth in the area.

Additional project information is available on the Port Authority website.

Proponents of the extension say it would create a "one-seat" mass transit ride between the World Trade Center PATH station in lower Manhattan and the airport, sparing riders from having to change from PATH to NJ Transit trains at Newark Penn Station.

Riders would still have to change from PATH trains to the Airtrain at the so-called Newark Liberty Rail Link Station to access airport terminals or parking garages. 

Some have questioned the project, including truckers and other motorists whose Port Authority tolls subsidize PATH service. They have asked why the agency should spend close to $2 billion to provide one more layer of airport rail service already available via NJ Transit.

The Port Authority authorized spending $1 billion of its own revenues on the project, and will rely on $700 million in grants to pay for the rest.

In addition to the new South Ward PATH station, the project also calls for construction of a new rail yard and modification of existing platforms at Newark Penn Station. 

A commuter parking garage also could be constructed using a potential public-private partnership, to provide park and ride access to PATH for commuters.

The project's supporters include Mayor Ras Baraka, South Ward Councilman John Sharpe James, and state Sen. M. Theresa Ruiz (D-Essex), as well as the Global Gateway Alliance, a Manhattan-based airport advocacy group.

They and others envision the new station as a key to redevelopment of the South Ward's Dayton/Seth Boyden neighborhood, just east of Weequahic Park, where Frelinghuysen and Haynes avenues meet.

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