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Video Report: Port Authority / BALCONY Forum June 18, 2009
ROADS, BRIDGES, TUNNELS & FIBER

BALCONY Breakfast Forum
with Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward
  
 




Scroll down or click here
to view the presentations by Forum panel members.

Ward | Barend | Melius | Osterhout | Ledwith | McInnis | Levendos

On June 18, 2009 BALCONY, the Business and Labor Coalition of New York, staged an informative forum on the financial challenges facing New York as we attempt to fund the pressing infrastructure needs of our state and region. Chris Ward, the Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, detailed the authority's $3.3 billion capital plan, warning that key projects may be sacrificed if all available capital is allocated to the Silverstein Project at the World Trade Center site. 

 
The impact of the $24 billion federal stimulus on New York infrastructure and construction and the recently announced New York State proposal to foster the creation of public private partnerships were debated at the forum by government, business and labor leaders.



BALCONY / GOTHAM RESEARCH GROUP SURVEY 
 
For Release June 18, 2009
 
In mid-May of 2009, Gotham Research Group, at the request of BALCONY, conducted a survey on state infrastructure with registered voters in New York State. The first question asked, "Should spending on rebuilding and maintaining New York's roads, bridges, and tunnels be increased, decreased, or kept the same?" Results indicate that there is strong support for increasing spending on state infrastructure among New York State voters.

The majority of New York State voters (57%) believe that spending on rebuilding and maintaining New York's roads, bridges, and tunnels should be increased, while just 7% believe that spending should be decreased.  Another third (34%) prefer that spending levels be "kept the same." (Findings for this first question are reported in Table 1.)




For the complete survey, click here: GOTHAM

~ ~ ~ ~ ~



(L to R) Chris Levendos, Dr. James Melius, Alan Lubin, Lou Gordon, Steve McInnis
CWardPORT AUTHORITY CAPITAL PLAN
Chris Ward began the formal program with a short description of how the Port Authority has historically acted as a driver of regional economic growth.  The various Port Authority capital improvement plans, including the rebuilding of the World Trade Center downtown, will create over 20,000 jobs in 2010 and 2011.  At least one quarter of these will be for minority businesses, businesses run by women, or small businesses acting as sub-contractors.  The $3.3 billion Port Authority capital spending plan includes the WTC reconstruction, a freight tunnel under the Hudson River, a new commuter rail option for New Jersey residents working in New York, a bus garage for the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and the transformation of the Farley Post Office into the newly-conceived Penn Station.  Mr. Ward emphasized his concern that the mushrooming costs of the World Trade Center projects not be allowed to overwhelm the other equally-as-important capital improvement plans that the Port Authority is undertaking.
 
Mr. Ward reminded the audience that local aviation also falls under Port Authority purview, and that the FAA had been decimated during the eight-year administration of President George W. Bush.  While there is no federal plan for dealing with aviation congestion, Ward described development plans for Next Gen Now, a state-of-the-art GPS locator for all airplane landing systems.
 
After pointing out that France and Germany, once bitter rivals, are better at coordinating transportation systems than New York and New Jersey, Ward used the example of construction of the George Washington Bridge to demonstrate how innovation can trump the burdens imposed by financial constraints.  He also added that Manhattan was facing truck traffic gridlock if this issue was not addressed before it is too late.
SBarendSTATE ASSET MAXIMIZATION COMMISSION
Samara Barend, the Executive Director of the State Asset Maximization (SAM) Commission, detailed how Governor David Paterson had created the commission to encourage public/private partnerships so that the public sector would not be forced to take on unacceptable risks.  The Governor and the Empire Development Corporation have the authority to appoint members to the SAM board.  Ms. Barend also referred to a study that showed that the State Department of Transportation would be $100 billion short on infrastructure needs within two decades, and ruefully observed that the $3 billion in federal stimulus money had been besieged by over $200 billion in New York State stimulus requests.

(click here for a video of Samara Barend's presentation)

(click here to read the complete SAM report)
 
JMeliusIMPACT OF FEDERAL STIMULUS FUNDS ON NEW YORK
Dr. James Melius, president of the New York Roadway Improvement Coalition, detailed the impact of the federal stimulus funds on New York. He cited studies that indicated that 53% of the bridges in New York State are in poor or fair condition and that over 3000 spans need maintenance, numbers that made New York rank third worst in the USA.  Debt service is consuming the state revolving fund for such maintenance, and greater efficiency, Dr. Melius warned, will not be sufficient to solve the problem.  Greater investment is what is required, and this will probably mean higher taxes.  He concluded by reminding the audience that there had been no gas tax increases, which help fund roadway and bridge repair, maintenance and construction, in many years.

(click here for a video of Dr. Melius' presentation)
BOsterhout
Brian Osterhout, the Director of Business Development of M J Engineering and Land Surveying, PC, said that the state needed to find new ways to bridge the financial gap that now exists between what is available and what is necessary for sound retro-fits and infrastructure maintenance.





(click here for a video of Brian Osterhout's presentation)
RLedwith CHALLENGES FACING NEW YORK BUILDING CONSTRUCTION
Robert Ledwith, the Business Manager and Financial Secretary/Treasurer of Local 46 Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers, was the next speaker and he reiterated what others had said about the precarious situation of the middle class.  "We could become a Third World nation in a generation or two unless we develop a coherent industrial policy," Ledwith warned, citing an all-time low in the issuance of building permits as a telling statistic.

(click here for a video of Robert Ledwith's presentation)


SMcInnis

At the same time, Steve McInnis, Political Director of the New York City District Council of Carpenters, pointed out that over 250 construction projects in New York City were now in distress because of the current recession.





(click here for a video of Steve McInnis' presentation)
SLevandos FIBER IN NEW YORK CITY
Chris Levendos, the Executive Director of FIOS Franchise Management of Verizon Telecom, described the decline of voice market share in telephony as an inevitable consequence of technological convergence, and suggested the end-to-end installation of fiber optic systems was the wave of the future for the phone giant.




(click here for a video of Chris Levendos' presentation)

BALCONY
Co-Chairmen Bruce Ventimiglia and Alan Lubin, and Elly Spicer of the New York and Vicinity Carpenters Labor Management Corporation, were also on the panel, but confined their remarks to introductions of the principals  and to soliciting questions from the very attentive audience. 







FORUM SPONSORS
WE THANK OUR FORUM SPONSORS
 
 
  

 
          

Forum Audience



THANK YOU, NEW YORK AND VICINITY CARPENTERS LABOR MANAGEMENT CORP.
This event was held at:

New York and Vicinity Carpenters Labor Management Corporation
395 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014


Bruce Ventimiglia & Christopher Ward


 
INFORMATIONAL TABLES PROVIDED BY
Local 46 Metallic Lathers and Reinforcing Ironworkers Labor Management Cooperative Trust
Autism United
Children's Aid Society
Greenwich Village/Chelsea Chamber of Commerce
Everyday Medical
Greater New York Chamber of Commerce
IllustraDent
Professional Women in Construction
WCBS Newsradio 880
Women Builders Council
Tom Mackell
Saratoga Capital Management

 
BALCONY WELCOMES NEW MEMBERS
      

 




 
BALCONY eBook MEMBER DIRECTORY - Published June 2009




The latest BALCONY eBook provides a full listing of our membership.

 
BALCONY NEW YORK
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New York, NY 10017
(212) 219-7777

Director, Lou Gordon: loug@balconynewyork.com
Research Director, Adria Linehan: adria@balconynewyork.com
Bulletin prepared by Kevin R. Weaver