What the PA has in mind for the site, surrounding on three sidesby water, is to demolish the existing import auto processing centerand turn the acreage into a container shipping terminal. PA andstate officials say it is part of an effort to prepare the port forthe coming expansion of the Panama Canal and an expected influx ofnew shipping traffic. Combined with ongoing dredging and channelwidening, as well as a new rail system, it's also part of theauthority's 10-year, $2-billion capital improvement plan.

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"Even during times of economic uncertainty, the port has been alifeline for this region," says Gov. Jon Corzine, in a statement."For that reason, we must protect this critical asset and moveforward with a clear vision for the future."

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Susan Bass Levin, the PA's first deputy executive director,terms the deal, "a coup for port expansion. Right now, there isn'tany land left. The question was, how do we use the space we have inthe best way possible?"

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State and PA officials haven't released details of exactly whatwill rise on the site once the existing Northeast Auto-MarineTerminal is demolished, or how much the construction phase willcost. As far as the timing, "it will be completed as soon ashumanly possible," Bass Levin says. The PA is "currently innegotiations" to sign up a company to build and operate the newfacility, she says.

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