Friday, February 02, 2018

PANYNJ to study two alternatives to improve freight movement

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The image at top shows the existing railcar float system, below is a rendering of what a cross harbor rail tunnel could look like. The image at top shows the existing railcar float system, below is a rendering of what a cross harbor rail tunnel could look like. PANYNJ and State of New York

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) has moved into the second phase of environmental review for the Cross Harbor Freight Movement Program.

PANYNJ entered a $23.7-million agreement with Cross Harbor Partners, a joint venture of STV Incorporated/AKRF Inc., for a Tier II Environmental Impact Statement that will evaluate two preferred options to move freight across New York Harbor and is expected to take up to three years to complete.

The two options to be examined are the construction of a cross harbor freight tunnel and the expansion of PANYNJ's existing railcar float operation. The rail tunnel alternative calls for construction of a freight tunnel under the New York Harbor that would run approximately four miles from Jersey City, N.J. to Brooklyn, N.Y. PANYNJ says the railcar float alternative would greatly expand the existing carfloat system, currently operated by New York New Jersey Rail, LLC, a wholly owned entity of PANYNJ since 2008, and would include new transfer bridges, carfloats, locomotives and tracks.

"With a projected 40-percent increase in freight movement by 2035, delays in goods movement will only worsen unless we begin to develop an optimum plan now that will provide the shipping and distribution industry with attractive alternatives to shipping by truck," said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. "Our goal is to explore these alternatives and come up with cost-effective approaches to future freight movement."

The review, which will include extensive outreach to all stakeholders, including elected officials and the public, will provide the Port Authority and other regional agencies with cost and benefits of each alternative to help reduce roadway congestion attributed to goods movement across the New York/New Jersey Harbor.

"New York City is the only major city in the world not directly connected to its country's national freight rail network – and that is something we must address," said U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). "More than one billion tons of freight move through the greater New York region each year primarily by truck, with truck congestion adding an estimated $2.5 billion annually to the cost of delivering goods to consumers and businesses. Today, with the start of the Tier II EIS, which will engage in a deeper examination of a cross-harbor freight tunnel identified as necessary in Tier I, we are taking a major step forward to finally address the region's serious and growing problems with inefficient goods movement."

PANYNJ says the Tier II study will help leadership determine if one or both alternatives provide sufficient benefits to justify their costs. The recommended alternative would require additional funding for the next phase of development, which entails preliminary engineering.