Code Conformance

  • Code Conformance
    Inventory Map
  • The Port Authority's Policy
    on Code Conformance
  • The Port Authority's Process
    of Ensuring Code Conformance

The publication of this report, which includes a code conformance status and structural integrity review of all Port Authority's facilities, represents a new initiative of the agency in its continuing effort to enhance public transparency. This report, which will be published on an annual basis going forward, brings together for the first time a detailed overview of the agency's long-standing policy of conforming to relevant building codes, its structural integrity assessment process, and, most importantly, an interactive facility map that allows the public to see where each of our facilities stand in terms code conformance.

Click on the facility location or name to view the respective facility's code conformance status.

George Washington Bridge JFK Airport Bayonne Bridge Lincoln Tunnel Newark International Airport Holland Tunnel Stewart International Airport LaGuardia Airport Teterboro Airport PATH Port Elizabeth Port Elizabeth Port Newark World Trade Center Journal Square Transportation Center Staten Island Teleport Howland Hook Marine Terminal Outerbridge Crossing Brooklyn Marine Terminal Brooklyn Marine Terminal Goethals Bridge Howland Hook Marine Terminal Bathgate Industrial Park Battery Park Ferry Terminal PATH PATH The South Waterfront George Washington Bridge Bus Station The South Waterfront Port Authority Bus Terminal Journal Square Transportation Center Queens West Waterfront Development Industrial Park at Elizabeth Industrial Park at Elizabeth Auto Marine Terminal Auto Marine Terminal AirTrain Newark AirTrain Newark ASI Terminal ASI Terminal AirTrain JFK AirTrain JFK

Inventory Format

This report includes an inventory of all Port Authority facilities and includes the following:

  • A survey of the major construction projects completed since 1993, all of which adhere to the Port Authority's longstanding policy on code conformance;
  • An inventory of the structures at a facility that the Port Authority assesses for code conformance on a cyclical basis;
  • The assessment schedule for building facades over 72 feet;
  • Any code-related issues that have occurred at Port Authority facilities since 1999, and a description of the corrective action taken by the Port Authority.

The Port Authority - a bi-State agency created in 1921 by the States of New York and New Jersey - is one of many governmental entities in New York and New Jersey that is not legally bound by local building and fire codes. Similar exemptions apply to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and other state authorities, federal buildings such as U.S. courthouses, and foreign embassies and consulates, including the United Nations headquarters.

Despite not being required to follow local building and fire codes, the Port Authority has a longstanding policy to ensure that the agency meets and, where appropriate, exceeds accepted local building and fire code standards with respect to construction, alteration and renovation to any building, structure and space at all Port Authority facilities. A breakdown of which codes our facilities conform to is below:


All of these sets of building codes include certain nationally recognized standards such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) as their reference standards.

Additionally, in conformance with the Fire Codes of New York City, New York State, and New Jersey, the Port Authority Manual, Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance Requirements for Fire Protection and Life Safety Systems (FPLS Manual), defines the requirements for systems and equipment at all Port Authority facilities.  FPLS systems include but are not limited to fire sprinkler systems, fire detection systems, fire alarm systems, smoke management systems, emergency lighting systems, and fire rated doors.

In addition to the applicable local codes, construction in all tenant areas must also comply with the requirements of the Port Authority's Engineering Department's Tenant Construction Review Manual (TCRM), which includes Port Authority standards that in some cases are above and beyond local building code. Because of their unique character and function, for facilities that have never been contemplated by local building or fire codes, nationally recognized standards are applied. For example, given that rail systems like AirTrain JFK and AirTrain EWR are not included in NYC's or New Jersey's building codes, each facility complies with NFPA 130, Standard for Fixed Guideway Transit and Passenger Rail Systems..

As part of its longstanding policy, the Port Authority has entered into agreements with various municipalities in which its facilities are located to additional assurance that Port Authority facilities will meet or exceed code conformance with respect to the construction of its facilities. In connection with its facilities in New York City, the Port Authority has entered into the agreements described below.

  • First, in 1993, the Port Authority entered into a memorandum of understanding with both the New York City Department of Buildings (NYCDOB) and the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) to reaffirm its commitment to meet and, where appropriate, exceed accepted building and fire code standards. In fact, the memorandum of understanding with the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) specifically gives the Department the right to conduct random, unannounced fire safety inspections at Port Authority facilities in New York City.
  • Second, in November 2004, the Port Authority entered into a World Trade Center Redevelopment Agreement with the City of New York.  In part, that agreement provides that the Port Authority will comply with all applicable NYCBC requirements for all construction work to be performed by the Port Authority or any of its net lessees at the World Trade Center site, and that all structures to be built at the World Trade Center site will comply with the NYCBC.  As provided in the WTC Redevelopment agreement, certain portions of the PATH Terminal will comply with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes.  Additionally, any proposed variances from the NYCBC shall require the prior consent of the NYCDOB.
  • Third, in March 2009, the Port Authority entered into a memorandum of agreement with the NYCDOB formalizing existing practices pertaining to the procedures under which the erection, dismantling, use and operation of cranes and derricks used in connection with construction at its facilities in New York City have the appropriate certificates and inspections provided for in the NYCBC.

In addition to the agreements discussed above, the Port Authority has a rigorous process - described below - to ensure its facilities are constructed in compliance with accepted local building and fire code standards:

The Port Authority's Engineering Department maintains a Quality Assurance Division, (QAD), which acts similarly to a Department of Buildings. QAD conducts periodic assessments of all facilities; reports on the condition of all existing buildings and structures; performs quality assurance audits of the construction supervision performed by Engineering, Line Departments, and tenants at Port Authority facilities; recommends to the Chief Engineer the issuance of Permits to Occupy/Use at all Port Authority facilities and the issuance of Certificates of Completion for Port Authority contracts; and, reviews and approves contract documents for construction by tenants and Line Departments for conformance to applicable local codes and Port Authority technical standards.

Since 1993, the Port Authority has completed, over 6,000 construction projects involving varying degrees of complexity. From the inception of a project through completion and beyond, the Port Authority works diligently to ensure that its facilities are in conformance with accepted local codes. For some perspective, a Port Authority construction project involves three phases: 1) design; 2) construction; 3) post-construction assessment. The Port Authority's Engineering Department resolves all code-related issues during the design and construction phase. The third phase, post-construction assessment, is part of the Port Authority's comprehensive facility structural integrity review program. Below, we describe each phase, along with the protocols in place to ensure code conformance.

Design Phase

All design documents for the Port Authority's own projects and tenant projects go through a thorough design review by experienced technical professionals in the Port Authority's Engineering Department for conformance with the code requirements and technical standards as outlined in the flow chart below. The Engineering Department's Design Standards Unit in QAD reviews and approves construction documents for tenant construction projects and audits Port Authority contract designs for compliance with applicable codes and Port Authority technical standards. The unit performs building department functions on behalf of the Chief Engineer. Engineering Department staff that review design drawings must be registered architects or licensed professional engineers in New York State or New Jersey.

Flowchart # 1

For engineered solutions, code equivalencies or code variances in projects in New York City, the Port Authority has since 1993 formally consulted with the NYCDOB. The Port Authority also consults with the Code Division of the New Jersey State Consumer Affairs Department on code interpretations for New Jersey projects. Under the 2004 WTC Redevelopment Agreement, any proposed variances from code with respect to construction at the World Trade Center site require the prior consent of the NYCDOB.

Specifically, since 1993, the Port Authority has consulted with the NYCDOB on various code matters on the following major projects and has obtained their written concurrence on all of them:

  • JFK - United airlines Cargo Building - Fabric Roof (1996)
  • JFK - Terminal 4 - Exit Facilities from Baggage Claim Hall (1997)
  • JFK - Infrared De-Icing Facility (2004)
  • LGA - Air Traffic Control Tower - Exit Stair (1996)
  • WTC Memorial and Museum
    • Fire Safety and Means of Egress (2006)
    • Parapet Design (2009)
    • Museum Pavilion (2009)
  • One World Trade Center
    • Passenger Elevator Arrangement (2004)
    • Use of AISC-LRFD (American Institute of Steel Construction - Load and Resistance Factor Design) and IBC (International Building Code) 2003 for Structural Design (2006)
    • Concrete Testing Procedure (2007)
    • Use of AISC 13th Edition for Structural Design (2007)
    • Observation Deck and Restaurant Occupant Load (2007)
    • Automatic Pumps for Standpipe/Sprinkler Water Safety (2008)
  • WTC Transportation Hub - Occupancy, Fire Safety and Means of Egress (2008)

Construction Phase

During the construction phase, designated Port Authority staff manages construction on Port Authority contracts and audits tenant construction projects (as outlined in flow chart #2) to ensure conformance to the approved design documents, accepted codes and requirements of the Port Authority. Special inspections, fire protection system tests, and vertical transportation system acceptance inspections are performed to ensure conformance to the approved design documents, codes and requirements of the Port Authority. A Permit to Occupy or Use (PTO) is only issued by the Chief Engineer of the Port Authority if conformance with the stated criteria is demonstrated.

Once a project enters the construction phase, the Engineering Department's Construction Standards Unit in QAD is tasked with ensuring that a construction project conforms to the applicable local code. To achieve this, the Construction Standards unit performs construction audits and attends acceptance inspections on new construction projects, including elevators, escalators, and boilers, for all Port Authority contracts and tenant construction projects; reports on condition of existing elevators, escalators, and boilers; and recommends to the Chief Engineer the issuance of a Permit to Occupy or Use for Port Authority contracts and tenant construction projects; and Certificate of Completion for Port Authority contracts.

The Chief Engineer of the Port Authority has issued close to 6,000 PTO's since 1993, as set forth in the table below.

SUMMARY OF PERMIT TO OCCUPY OR USE (PTO) ISSUED - PA PROJECTS

Year Total No. of PTO New York City New York State New Jersey
1993 109 32 0 77
1994 108 40 0 68
1995 138 58 0 80
1996 208 133 0 95
1997 86 31 0 55
1998 166 114 0 52
1999 109 62 0 47
2000 168 56 0 112
2001 235 177 0 58
2002 114 71 0 43
2003 386 214 0 172
2004 139 50 0 89
2005 106 28 0 78
2006 126 68 0 58
2007 72 40 0 32
2008 134 59 1 75
2009 177 96 0 81
2010 89 46 0 43
Total 2670 1,375 1 1,315

SUMMARY OF PERMIT TO OCCUPY OR USE (PTO) ISSUED - TENANT PROJECTS

Year Total No. of PTO New York City New York State New Jersey
1993 36 31 0 5
1994 77 60 0 17
1995 100 74 0 26
1996 145 124 0 21
1997 201 172 0 29
1998 179 135 0 44
1999 208 186 0 22
2000 215 148 0 67
2001 188 160 0 28
2002 208 87 0 121
2003 164 64 0 100
2004 217 67 0 150
2005 277 204 0 73
2006 165 76 0 89
2007 212 145 0 67
2008 114 70 0 44
2009 251 159 0 92
2010 222 124 0 98
Total 3,259 2,097 0 1,162

Though not required by local building and safety codes, the Port Authority offers safety classes for Port Authority employees through the Operations Services Department. In addition, the Treasury Department coordinates the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) 10-hour training for contractors with respect to construction site safety. Examples of classes attended by Port Authority employees include:

  • Excavation: Trenching & Shoring
  • Fall Protection, Scaffolding and Ladder Safety
  • Forklift/Powered Industrial Trucks
  • Maintenance of Traffic & Work Area Protection

Post-Construction Assessment Phase

As mentioned above, all code-related issues are resolved by the Engineering Department during the design and construction phase. Once construction is completed, the Port Authority assesses structural integrity of it facilities through a multi-faceted effort involving the agency's Engineering Department, and various agency staff involved in the operation of the facilities and the risk management and insurance functions.

Designated Port Authority staff in the Engineering Department's Condition Surveys Unit in QAD conducts periodic structural integrity assessments and issue condition survey reports on the condition of all existing structures.

The flow chart below outlines the Port Authority's structural integrity assessment process, including the assessment of building facades every five years for buildings greater than 6 stories in height (or 72 feet or greater) in New York City. Biennial assessments are performed on all Port Authority vehicular bridges to comply with the Federal Highway Administration requirements. Corrective actions to conditions that exist involving structural integrity, elevators, escalators, boilers, fire protection and life safety systems, and general fire hazards, are reported directly to facility managers and follow-up assessments are conducted to verify that the necessary corrective action has been taken.

On a cyclical basis, assessments are performed on approximately 680 buildings for fire protection systems and approximately 1,120 vertical transportation systems, which include elevators, escalators and moving walks.

In addition to the Port Authority's building fa├žade assessments in New York City, every five years the Port Authority assesses the facades of all buildings at its facilities in New Jersey and New York State which are 72 ft. or greater in height (totaling 28 buildings).

Furthermore, the Port Authority has a cyclic structural integrity assessment process pertaining to approximately 770 buildings, 13 miles of light rail system, 18 railroad bridges, 8 miles of vehicle tunnels, 26 miles of railroad tunnels, 14 miles of piers & wharves, 4,200 sign & lighting structures and 4,500 light/catenary poles, on the cycles set forth in the table below. The cycles meet or exceed accepted code standards and in the absence of any such standards are based industry best practices for assessment cycles. As a result of these assessments, since 1999, 181 items related to mandated structural integrity inspections have been resolved.

STRUCTURE CYCLE
Buildings & Terminals 6 - 10 years
Building Facades 72 ft. or Greater 5 years
Bridges - Vehicle 2 years
Bridges - Railroad 6 years
Tunnels - Vehicle 2 years
Tunnels - Railroad 3 - 6 years
Signs & Lighting Structures 4 years
Piers, Berths & Bulkheads 3 years
Railroad Stations 7 years
Railroad Substations 8 years
Air Train Guideway Structure 3 years
Bus & Parking Level Slabs 2 years
Rock Slopes 3 - 4 years
PATH Open Air Structures 6 years
Parking Garages 4 years

As the flow chart below demonstrates, when a code-related situation is identified, corrective measures are taken immediately to ensure public safety. The Port Authority maintains call-in contracts, under which contractors can begin remedial work on code-related items as soon as design drawings are created.

Flowchart # 3

In addition to the assessment process described above, the Port Authority has also organized a Safety Board, comprised of the Board of Commissioners, the Executive Director, and Port Authority staff at different levels throughout the agency. The Safety Board meets quarterly and in response to incidents at Port Authority facilities and to address agency-wide policy decisions pertaining to our facilities. The Board is comprised of:

Board organizational diagram

An additional component of the Port Authority's assessment process involves the FDNY. As referenced above, the 1993 MOU with the FDNY gave the FDNY the right to conduct random, unannounced fire safety inspections at Port Authority facilities in New York City. The Port Authority relies upon the FDNY to respond to its NYC facilities for operational assistance. As such, the FDNY must be educated about the layout of Port Authority facilities. Port Authority staff provides in-depth tours to FDNY firefighters and officers and collaborates with FDNY officials on incident response techniques given the unique nature of Port Authority facilities.

Moving Forward

A critical factor in the Port Authority's delivery of its regional capital program has always been and will continue to be maintaining the confidence of the public in its operations. This report and those to be issued annually in the future are intended to ensure a level of transparency that is fundamental to maintaining that public confidence.

Inventory Format

This report includes an inventory of all Port Authority facilities and includes the following:

  • A survey of the major construction projects completed since 1993, all of which adhere to the Port Authority's longstanding policy on code conformance;
  • An inventory of the structures at a facility that the Port Authority assesses for code conformance on a cyclical basis;
  • The assessment schedule for building facades over 72 feet;
  • Any code-related issues that have occurred at Port Authority facilities since 1999, and a description of the corrective action taken by the Port Authority.

 


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