In my 36 years at the Port Authority, I
was part of many programs, working with the PA’s talented staff. The PA
often "led the way” in many fields including transportation planning and
operations. Here are three programs where I had the opportunity to help
shape significant advances for PA facilities and for other regional and
Create a new National standard sign (PA studies for Lincoln Tunnel Third
Tube signs) - I joined the PA in the traffic engineering division,
headed by Lou Bender… a member of NCUTCD (National Committee on Uniform
Traffic Control Devices). I assisted in finalizing the design of the
changeable message signs that would inform drivers of roadway status for
the changeable direction approach roadways. Three possible messages:
enter (directional message), two-way traffic and do not enter). Existing
standards could confuse drivers since the “enter" and "do not enter"
signs would each be black on white. The PA proposed a new standard,
white on red, for “DO NOT ENTER”. This new standard would need to be
approved by "the committee." Using Lou's connection I set up field
demonstrations for the committee on a closed taxiway at New York
International Airport. The white-on-red colors were approved for the
Lincoln tunnel signs. Committee follow up then led to adoption of white
on red colors for all DO NOT ENTER signs in the United States.
Exclusive Bus Lane (XBL) on New Jersey approach to Lincoln Tunnel -
Later I joined the Port Development Department, directed by Roger
Gilman. To better coordinate A.M. weekday capacity of the three-lane
approach with the tunnel tube roadway operations, consideration was
given to reversing a normally westbound approach lane. My traffic
analysis concluded that this would be beneficial if the reversed lane
was for buses only. This would avoid overfeeding the tunnel and would
allow buses to bypass typical A.M. eastbound congestion, with
significant time savings for passengers.
Traffic analysis was straightforward, but doing the lane reversal was
not simple since this would be a contra-flow lane on the “wrong" side of
the existing median. I was project director coordinating seven years of
negotiations, with NJDOT and NJ Turnpike and other agencies, leading to
approval. The XBL has become a key trans-Hudson link, marking its 50th
anniversary in December 2020. PA is now considering autonomous operation
to increase passenger flow. XBL also had national impact, as a role
model for bus priority programs in other cities.
One-way tolls - PA crossings and other Hudson River crossings - PA
planners were aware of the potential safety benefits and cost savings of
this concept. Ending of Hudson River vehicular ferries enhanced
feasibility of adopting this idea. Port Development, working closely
with Tunnels and Bridges, undertook a study with me as project
coordinator. The study recognized that we would need to include the six
PA crossings and the Hudson river crossings north of the George
Washington Bridge. Traffic studies indicated do-ability and benefits.
There was concern, however, that a bond covenant for the PA and the
other agencies (NY State Thruway Authority and NY State Bridge
Authority) would require bondholder approval.
I discussed this concern with California toll agencies at an IBTTA
conference, since they had just done one-way tolls at the San Francisco
Bay vehicle crossings. Their bond counsel had advised that following the
“spirit" of the covenant, bondholder approval was not needed.
Consultations between PA lawyers and the California lawyers then led to
going ahead with our one-way tolls program.