Staten Island's Grimm ready for 'war' with Port Authority
The congressman appeared in today’s Staten Island Advance:
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Rep. Michael Grimm says raising the Bayonne Bridge is dead in the water unless the Port Authority -- and the governors of New York and New Jersey -- come up with a plan to offset the onerous tolls paid by New York Container Terminal truckers, which threaten to put Howland Hook out of business in a few years.
"It's all-out war," declared Grimm (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn), saying he would find a way to block funding from New York taxpayers to raise the bridge to accommodate the larger ships that will head north from the Panama Canal Zone by 2014.
"Without the container port, there is no incentive for my constituents to raise the Bayonne Bridge or pay for it," said the congressman. "Without it, what does that mean for the whole maritime industry in New York? I will do everything in my power to make sure New Jersey bears the cost of raising that bridge."
Added Grimm: "The Port Authority needs to understand this. Trust me, I will keep my word on this. I will go to war over this."
Grimm's remarks came when asked by the Advance to comment on the long-delayed $70,000 study that the P.A. promised weeks ago would be forthcoming to assess the economic impact of sky-high tolls on truck drivers using Jersey bridges to get to Howland Hook on Staten Island's West Shore.
Grimm said he thinks the study's release has been delayed "because it confirms the impact that the outrageous tolls have on the New York Container Terminal, that it is at a massive disadvantage and that its long-term viability is jeopardized. I can't confirm that. I am still waiting for my copy. But if they think they can continue to delay the release of the study and do a slow roll on whatever their toll plan is and give us the usual shuffle, I am declaring war on this."
"I am confident that if the study had come back that the tolls didn't have a negative impact on the container port, the Port Authority would have called, e-mailed, Fed-Exed the report to me," added Grimm. "The fact that they have not pro-actively contacted me about this means that they are between a rock and a hard place. I believe they are delaying the inevitable, trying to figure out their talking points to us and to the press."
Said Grimm: "I have no faith that the Port Authority can do anything about it. It is up to Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo and Gov. (Chris) Christie. They made a deal on the tolls and the Port Authority takes its orders from them."
Asked how he would stymie funding from the Empire State to raise the Bayonne Bridge unless NYCT toll relief is part of the package, Grimm said, "Everything is on the table. It won't happen; not on my watch. We cannot afford to lose more than 500 good-paying jobs at the container port."