By David Madden

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) — A push to have the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey take over Atlantic City International Airport is one step closer to reality now that the authority has agreed to spend $3 million on a feasibility study.

The agency — which already operates the New York area’s three major airports plus bridges and tunnels and the World Trade Center — will look into environmental, financial, and legal issues involved in a possible takeover.

It’s not that the current operator, the South Jersey Transportation Authority, is doing a bad job — quite the contrary.  It’s just thought that a larger operator that carries more clout with the airlines could do better.

“Atlantic City Airport has an enormous amount of space,” says NJ state senate president Steve Sweeney, who is pushing the idea, “and if we can get a carrier that links up to one of the hubs, it opens up another market for us in Atlantic City.”

There is no target date to conclude the study.  Sweeney says that’s by design, to make sure the results are genuine — although he really wants the managers from the northern part of the state to come in.