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McGreevey Says Port Authority Will Pay For Xanadu Rail Line; A Week After State Officials And Developers Signed An Agreement On The $1.3 Billion Xanadu Project

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will finance a $150 million rail link to the planned Xanadu sports and entertainment complex in the Meadowlands, Gov. James E. McGreevey announced Wednesday.

The announcement comes a week after state officials and developers signed an agreement on the $1.3 billion Xanadu project, which will include indoor skiing and surfing, Formula One-style racing, shops, restaurants, a hotel and offices on 104 acres surrounding the Continental Airlines Arena.

Officials of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which controls the Xanadu site, had been insisting that a rail line would be part of the development, but before Wednesday no funding source had been identified.

"This rail link will serve the entire region. It will provide economic opportunities throughout the region, and will help us relieve traffic congestion as we grow," according to a statement by McGreevey, who appoints half the port authority's board.

George Zoffinger, the sports authority president, said, he believes there is "a major consensus among everyone in the business, labor and environmental communities that this is a positive thing."

Zoffinger said the 1.9 mile rail line would run from the sports complex to New Jersey Transit's Pascack Valley Line, which would be linked to New York, Newark, Hoboken and various other points via the Secaucus Transfer Station rail hub. He said the rail link probably would not be completed before Xanadu's initial attractions open in early 2006.

New Jersey Transit and the Port Authority did not immediately return calls for comment.

Wednesday's word of rail funding came just hours after Bruce Ratner, a New York-based developer who is seeking to buy the New Jersey Nets, announced his plans to build an arena for the Nets in Brooklyn, which would be designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.

Whether the Nets continue to play at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford is unrelated to the Xanadu plans, officials said. Officials have insisted that the arena, which is also home to the New Jersey Devils, will remain in operation regardless of where the Nets and Devils play.