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The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) on Wednesday awarded a three-year, $6 million contract to HNTB Corp. to study a proposed extension of the PATH rail line to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.The authority estimates the project would cost about $1.5 billion and would take five years to complete. Construction is tentatively slated to begin in 2018, according to a PANYNJ press release.The study would result in a more precise cost estimate for the project after examining various technical and compliance issues, authority officials said."This is exactly the type of project the port authority should be doing," said Jamie Fox, the commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation. "Transportation is all about getting people where they need to go in the most efficient manner. Providing a mass transit option with direct access between lower Manhattan and Newark Airport enhances the accessibility and convenience for travelers using the airport."The extension would allow riders to travel directly between the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan and the airport via Jersey City, Harrison and Penn Station in Newark.