The Port Authority was once dubbed “the single worst place on Planet Earth” by John Oliver. The bus terminal even had its own episode in the series Everybody Hates Chris called “Everybody Hates The Port Authority.” Now the 70-year-old building is going to be rebuilt, at an estimated cost of at least $10 billion.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has considered around 30 different proposals in recent years — but has now settled on staying on the two blocks bordered by 8/9th Avenues and W40th and 42nd Streets.
The original terminal was opened in 1950 on one block between 40/41st Street. Around 9,000 tons of structural steel, more than two million bricks, and a whopping $24 million went into the original building. In 1979, it was extended to 42nd Street.
The plan is to construct a new terminal on top of the current one. The original proposal to build west of the current site and demolish blocks of Hell’s Kitchen was dropped after vehement objections from the local community.
The new proposal is less likely to be contentious with Hell’s Kitchen residents, as no private property will be involved. There are plans to build an extra depot further west for bus operators currently using the streets (such as interstate carrier Bolt) as well as providing parking for buses.
Approximately three and a half additional acres of new green space will be created by decking over sections of the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel.
Christine Berthet, co-chair of Manhattan Community Board 4’s Transportation committee told the Wall Street Journal that many of the community’s concerns have been addressed by the latest proposal.
“I think we have reached a point where we say, ‘OK, I think our interests are aligned and what makes sense for the Port Authority also makes sense for the community,’” said Berthet.
It’s unclear how much of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $51 billion for the development of Manhattan Midtown West has been assigned to the bus terminal project. The Port Authority has said they will provide $3 billion for their capital budget, sell air rights for 4 new developments, and ask the city for tax breaks.
It’s hoped that the new terminal will be completed by 2031. In announcing the plans today, the place Port Authority has in the hearts and minds of New Yorkers was recognized. “2021 marks our centennial year and we’re advancing our mission to keep the region moving with plans for a whole new Midtown Bus Terminal,” they said. “We’ll transform this outdated facility into a 21st century transit hub and source of community pride, not scorn.”