New Goethals Bridge Nears Finish Line

By Steve Coleman, Media Relations Staff

Under late night cover of darkness, a 130-foot-long, 157,600-pound concrete girder was transported this week across the eastbound span of the new Goethals Bridge – signaling the latest and perhaps most important milestone in the construction of the first new bridge built by the Port Authority since 1931.

Exactly 680 days after the first girder – an enormous precast concrete structure used for building bridges – was paraded across the span on large custom-made motorized dollies, the 192nd and last New York-side girder made the trip on December 7.

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“These girders are the backbone of this critical bi-state crossing, providing support for the new bridge deck and the related infrastructure,” said Lou Franco, the senior project manager for the Goethals Bridge Replacement Program.  “Now that all the New York girders have been delivered, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel toward the completion of this project by the middle of next year.”

Franco has spent many days and nights on the crossing over the life of the project, dealing with the challenging logistics of building a new bridge while maintaining traffic on the old structure – and most recently on the eastbound half of the new structure that was opened in June.

During the past two years, crews have been tasked with moving and installing girders as long as 175 feet.  The largest of the girders weighed in at 231,000 pounds. Before even reaching the bridge, the girders had to be trucked across Interstate 78 from the manufacturing plant in Cressona, Pa., about 125 miles from the Goethals.

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Once complete, the state-of-the-art bridge will have three 12-foot lanes along with 12-foot outer shoulders and five-foot inner shoulders on each of its twin spans.  The new structure also will feature a 10-foot shared use path for bicyclists and pedestrians.  The twin spans also will preserve a corridor for future mass transit between the structures.

With the new structure nearing completion, crews are diligently at work deconstructing the old crossing, which has served as a lifeline linking Staten Island to Elizabeth, N.J. for 89 years. In the coming weeks, the bridge’s signature steel truss structure will be lowered onto a barge and removed from the site, marking the end of a special era in Port Authority history.

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A Christmas Spectacular for Thousands of Kids at JFK

Story and photos by Lenis Rodrigues, Media Relations Staff

During the holiday season, Delta Air Lines will be shuttling hundreds of thousands of passengers from John F. Kennedy Airport to destinations all over the globe.

But one special passenger arrived this morning to meet and greet thousands of special children on a magical day in Queens. The Macy’s Santa Claus arrived not with a sleigh and eight tiny reindeer, but via a Delta 767 jet bound from the North Pole. From the plane, it was on to a train that enabled Santa to take a spin around the colorfully decorated Hangar 19 at JFK.

As has been tradition for more than 40 years, Santa was the star attraction at the Community Mayors Operation Santa event held in the JFK hangar this morning under the watchful eyes of dozens of Port Authority staff. More than 3,000 children from New York City communities with special needs were entertained this year after eagerly awaiting the arrival of Jolly Old St. Nick. They were bused into the facility and exited their buses singing along with the Christmas carols being played in the facility.

“This event makes the days of all of these children brighter and that is more than enough to bring tears to my eyes. At the end of the day you know you’ve done something good,” said Shelley Della Rocca, the volunteer president and CEO of Community Mayors whose father, Dominick, began running special events for kids in need 65 years ago.

It was a remarkably festive event, featuring Macy’s balloons, volunteers and children dressed as clowns, parading cartoon characters, and marching bands that included the Port Authority Police Department Pipe Band and Honor Guard. In keeping with the spirit of the day, Fernando Garcia, a student at P.S. 993 in Floral Park, Queens, asked Santa for his very own airplane for Christmas. And he wished Santa, Mrs. Claus and all of their friends a Merry Christmas.

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Community Mayors is a not-for-profit organization that continues to help children with disabilities and host special events for them, relying on thousands of volunteers from uniformed service organizations, business and government, including the Port Authority, to carry out its mission.

“The continued success of Operation Santa at JFK for over 40 years already speaks volumes,” said JFK Airport General Manager Michael Moran. “It is a testament to the dedication and collaboration among our airport community, federal partners, and elected officials in supporting children with special needs during the holidays.”

“Delta is committed to giving back to the communities in which we live, work and serve,” added Stephanie Baldwin, Delta’s Vice President-Airport Operations at JFK. “We’re proud to be a part of this holiday tradition.”

The event also underscored the special relationship that JFK, Delta and the Community Mayors maintain with Macy’s. “It is incredibly rewarding for everyone at Macy’s to extend the magic and bring the joyous spirit of Santa to so many of New York City’s children with special needs,” said Susan Tercero, Group Vice President of Macy’s Branded Entertainment.

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A Holiday Gift, from Jersey City Students to PATH Riders

By Lenis Rodrigues, Media Relations Staff; Photos by Mike Dombrowski

Jersey City eighth-grader Renfrew Maristela isn’t fond of math, but he loves art and his family – and that combination helped him capture the grand prize today in PATH’s annual Holiday Poster Contest. Renfrew’s poster, depicting a train picking up a snowman to visit his family, will be displayed throughout the holiday season in PATH cars and stations.

PATH Poster Contest grand prize winner Renfrew Maristela

PATH Poster Contest grand prize winner Renfrew Maristela

PATH received more than 350 submissions this year – the 28th consecutive year PATH has partnered with the Jersey City school system in hosting the event – and winners were named in three categories. Renfrew, a student at P.S. 23 whose father is an artist, also won in the grade 6-8 category.

Cora Kerr of P.S. 16 was named the winner in the grade 3-5 category and Skyla-Jean Woomer of P.S. 28 was chosen from grades K-2. Cora and Skyla-Jean’s posters will be on display in PATH stations. The winning entries will have quite the audience: during the holiday season, about 6.7 million passengers take PATH.

PATH Poster Contest winners from left to right are Renfrew, Skyla-Jean, Cora with PATH General Manager Mike Marino

PATH Poster Contest winners from left to right are Renfrew, Skyla-Jean, Cora with PATH General Manager Mike Marino

Click here to view the winning posters.

Cora had a particular approach in mind when she started designing her poster. “I’ve seen some people decorate their cars with reindeer antlers, so I thought I should dress the PATH up as a reindeer,” she said of her submission, which showed two snowmen heading to the North Pole to pick up presents from Santa.

Skyla-Jean’s mom, Victoria Valdez, was thrilled with her daughter’s big win. “It’s a monumental moment for me. I was blown out of the water,” she said. “I don’t think she realizes how excited I am for her — more than she is for herself.”

The ceremony, held at PATH’s Journal Square headquarters in Jersey City, also featured a performance of Christmas songs by the Jersey City Arts Vocal Choir, and was followed by a luncheon to honor the winners.

Jersey City Arts Vocal Program sang Christmas carols for PATH Poster Contest ceremony

Jersey City Arts Vocal Program sang Christmas carols for PATH Poster Contest ceremony

“This is one of the highlights of our year,” said PATH Director/General Manager Michael Marino, who noted that “it gets harder to pick a winner, since the quality of submissions is only getting better each year.”

Added Jersey City Superintendent of Schools Maria Lyles: “We are delighted with this continued partnership that will not only usher in the season but showcase our talented students’ work … and highlight the work done by our tremendous staff.”

Each winner received four tickets to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and complimentary 10-trip PATH SmartLink cards, provided by the Port Authority, for the trip to and from the show. The Port Authority awarded the winners with $50 American Express Gift cards, and they are receiving art supplies from the Jersey City Visual and Performing Arts Department and Jersey City Board of Education.

 

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