That's still the goal, but the PA's commissioners have justapproved a new plan to get the project done by 2009, and for $2.3billion. The reduced cost comes from a combination of the shortertime frame in general, and a streamlined procedure in particular.Explains Richard M. Larrabee, director of commerce for the PA, "thesavings come from a variety of sources, including drilling andblasting to a 50-foot depth all at once, instead of dredging to 41feet, then to 45 feet and then to 50 feet in a given area.

"The shorter project schedule also means that local residentswill be impacted less by noise and blasting," Larrabee continues,"and so will the marine environment." He points out that of the$2.3 billion, the PA will pay $1 billion, with Federal sourcescovering the rest.

The issue has major implications for the region's economy. ThePA's port facilities in New Jersey and New York, with abouttwo-thirds of cargo activity flowing through New Jersey'sfacilities in Newark and Elizabeth, generate more than $20 billiona year in economic activity. It's estimated that more than 160,000jobs are involved, directly and indirectly.

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