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NEW YORK CITY-To demonstrate that it’s in compliance with city building and safety codes–although it’s not legally bound by them–the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Thursday announced that it will publish an annual report with inspection records and conformance status for all of its facilities. The initiative is being launched in collaboration with Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer, who last summer issued a five-point plan calling for governmental agencies to comply with the city’s codes.

With its first edition scheduled for Q1 2009, the annual report will cover for the first time all Port Authority facilities in both New York and New Jersey. World Trade Center buildings controlled by the authority will be part of the report, along with the agency’s airports, bridges, tunnels, terminals and port and PATH facilities.

In a release, Stringer calls the initiative “an important way for us to ensure the public and first responders that the Port Authority has been working diligently to make sure its public facilities conform with applicable building and fire codes and are safe for the hundreds of thousands of people who go through them every year. The authority’s initiative is an example that should be followed by other state, federal and international entities which are technically exempt from city building and safety standards.”

The initiative dovetails with the first point of the five-point plan Stringer released last August, in which he called for public disclosure of code compliance in so-called “non-jurisdictional” buildings. There are more than 800 such buildings in the city, Stringer pointed out at the time; they include state and federal courthouses, Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal and the United Nations Secretariat.

Legally, these buildings are not subject to inspection by the city’s police, fire and buildings departments, and are not subject to penalties for failure to comply with safety codes. In releasing his five-point plan, Stringer cited the fatal August 2007 blaze in the former Deutsche Bank building at 130 Liberty St., in which two firefighters died in part because the inspection that would have revealed cut standpipes was never conducted.

In a release issued on Thursday, the Port Authority acknowledges that its buildings are non-jurisdictional, but says that it has reached agreements with the city over the years to meet or exceed its building and fire codes. During a project’s design and construction phase, the authority’s quality assurance division works with city agencies to ensure code compliance, the release states.

“In addition, the authority has entered into several memorandums of understanding with the New York City Department of Buildings and the New York City Fire Department to reaffirm its commitment to meet, and where appropriate, exceed accepted building and fire code standards,” the release states. In 2004, the authority and the city entered into a WTC redevelopment agreement stating that the authority will comply with all applicable building code requirements “for all construction work to be performed by the Port Authority or any of its net lessees at the World Trade Center site.”

Chris Ward, the authority’s executive director, says in a release that the agency has “worked diligently” with city officials “to make sure our buildings are safe, secure and in conformance with all local building and fire codes.” The annual report, he adds, “will allow the public to see what we’ve done so they can track our progress and judge for themselves.”

In a statement, city buildings commissioner Robert Limandri says the authority “should be commended for taking this first step in making their inspection records available to the public, and we are looking forward to reviewing their results. We expect this will lead to greater communication and cooperation between our agencies and others in ensuring all public facilities are safe for New Yorkers.”

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