By Roz Hamlett, Portfolio Editor
For the Port Authority, 2016 began with the clearing of massive amounts of snow and ice from the runways of Port Authority airports during one of the fiercest snowstorms in the region’s history.
It ended on a far more upbeat note as arias were performed by a world-class opera soprano to lift the spirits of weary commuters at the Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT).
During the intervening months, the pages of Portfolio pulsed with the people, places and events of one of the world’s most vibrant transportation agencies.
The Oculus at the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub became an instant icon and the hottest new destination in town as thousands flocked to “Selfie Central,” transforming the newly-completed transportation and retail space into a white marble beach for millennials with cellphones.
Living art and public sculpture were installed on the 9/11 Memorial Plaza. America’s Response Monument, also known as the Horse Statue, was relocated from Liberty Park in commemoration of soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan post 9/11. The Living Wall, a vertical garden of a hundred different species of ivy and vines, was installed as a green space of urban serenity. A horse chestnut tree was donated to the WTC site by the Anne Frank Center USA and planted as a symbol of faith and hope in the struggle against hatred and intolerance.
Steady progress was made on two signature bridge projects: raising the roadway of the Bayonne Bridge and the complete replacement of the Goethals Bridge. By October, the George Washington Bridge necklace glowed pink during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in support of breast cancer patients and survivors.
Dramatic emergency response drills were staged throughout the year to hone the skills of first responders, Port Authority police, firefighting units and a host of regional partners. This preparedness was on display when an airplane carrying now Vice President-elect Mike Pence skidded off the runway at LaGuardia Airport. Arrestor beds at the foot of the runway averted what could have been a major accident.
Port Authority facilities served as locations for the birth of babies; solar-powered flight, and the filming of the Hollywood blockbuster Sully, the unforgettable story of how Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed his distressed airplane on the Hudson River, a film directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks as Sully.
All in all, it was a very good year. View the slideshow for highlights.