Newark gets help with water crisis through airport deal
Newark is getting some help to pay for the replacement of lead pipes that are affecting drinking water.
A lease extension agreement with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for Newark's airport and port will pay the city $5 million more per year for 30 years, plus $5 million up front.
Mayor Ras Baraka says that while it isn't directly tied to the recent water crisis, the money will help pay debt service on a $120 million loan the city is using to replace 18,000 lead service lines.
“Obviously, we're grateful and happy it happened at this time - God is good - We just want to make sure that folks understand that our dealings with Port Authority was long before this issue took place,” Baraka said.
The deal extends the lease through 2075 and adds a supplemental payment to help with the lead line replacement project.
The city has handed out bottled water to affected residents since mid-August, when a few homes with city-issued filters still had elevated lead levels.
Wider sampling recently found the filters working in up to 99% of homes.
Up to $100 million in federal funds could also be coming to Newark to help with the lead project. But those funds are waiting on a signature from President Donald Trump
The Port Authority deal also includes changes to Port Street, where trucks from the seaport drive out to the New Jersey Turnpike. The area has been dealing with record-high levels of truck traffic, according to Port Authority officials, and needs to be improved.
“They'll be able to use and widen Port Street for safety purposes and allow trucks to come in and out of there,” Baraka says.
The Port Authority's first annual payment is due Jan. 15, 2020.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.