NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A vital Manhattan transportation hub has been buried under construction for years.
It’s supposed to be opening any day now, but that’s a promise that’s been made before.
“This should have been open a long time ago, said state Sen. Marisol Alcantara. “Trying to pull the answer is like pulling teeth from Port Authority.”
Alcantara (D-Manhattan) is demanding to know when the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal is finally going to open after years of construction delays.
The station — which serves around 5 million people a year — closed for renovations in 2014. It was supposed to reopen the following year.
“This is the gateway. This is where they take public transportation,” Alcantara said.
But for the last three years a trailer has been the waiting area, and getting to and from buses means taking the stairs, there are no escalators, and the surrounding streets are a maze of sidewalk sheds.
“It’s very dangerous for you to get off the subway station and walk in the dark street under all that construction, and it’s like an ugly eyesore in the community,” Alcantara said.
Commuters shared that frustration.
“People out here are frustrated about it,” one rider said.
“They put up two high rises in Fort Lee, 50-plus stories in less time than it took to do this,” another added.
“They promised you everything and give you nothing,” another man said.
“The construction has been a mess, but we us the bus terminal,” another said.
When it first opened in 1963, the terminal was hailed as a remarkable structure. It was also recognized as an important community gathering place.
“A lot of our seniors used to go and hang out in the public area, and now they cannot even do that. You know, I think most people in the neighborhood have given up hope on this project,” Alcantara said.
CBS2’s Dick Brennan made several requests for an interview to get answers about the project, and was told by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that no one was available, so CBS2 followed them to their monthly meetings in April.
“The final test of lights and safety systems are being run. We believe that that is very, very near completion,” Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye said.
Foye said delays in approvals were part of the problem and adds ultimately they picked up the wrong developer.
Port Authority chairman John Degnan agrees.
“It should be an embarrassment to the developer and to the contractor. The developer has been paying us a fine of $5,000 a day for late delivery of the project for more than a year, and continues to pay that fine until it’s done,” he said.
The developer said they were targeting May 15 as the opening of just the bus area. They added that retail and other areas should be open in a couple of months.