Milestone for NYNJ Cross Harbor Freight Project
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has issued a request for proposals for consultants to conduct the Tier II Environmental Impact Study and complementary advanced planning and engineering work for the Cross Harbor Freight Movement Project.
A cross harbor freight tunnel for New York harbor has been on the drawing boards for decades and would connect container facilities on the New Hersey side of the harbor with docks in Brooklyn.
The Tier II study will explore the execution of a cross-harbor freight tunnel, identified in Tier I as one of the solutions to alleviate severe traffic congestion, reduce dependence on aging roads and bridges, and solve the region’s freight problem by connecting New York City directly to the national freight rail grid. The tunnel would run between an existing rail yard in the Greenville area of Jersey City to rail infrastructure on the Brooklyn waterfront. The Port Authority has committed up to $35 million for the study and has available up to another $35 million for further design and engineering.
“This project will identify an innovative, 21st century solution to streamline congestion and support economic growth for generations to come,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. “After generations of neglect, New York is once again building for the future…by investing in world-class transportation projects across the state.”
Representative Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat who represents parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, noted that he has supported the Cross Harbor Rail Freight Tunnel project for over 30 years. The project “will finally connect the New York metropolitan region to the national freight rail grid by removing trucks from our streets and diverting them to the underutilized rail network,” he added. “It will change the way we move goods throughout our region for the better, with economic, environmental, health, safety, and cost saving benefits for millions of people.”
New York City is the only major city in the world that is not directly connected to its country’s national freight rail network. Without this key rail link, 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. Trucks transport about 90 percent of the freight, while rail handles only two to three percent, with most freight arriving by rail at points west of New York and relying on trucks to reach their final destinations. It costs as much to move goods from New Jersey to Manhattan as it does to move them 500 miles or more in some other areas of the United States. In the next 20 years, freight to, from, and through this region is expected to increase by at least 37 percent – beyond the capacity of area roadways, putting a lid on economic development.
Proponents say the Cross Harbor Rail Freight Tunnel would help reduce congestion on roads and bridges, improve air quality and reduce asthma, as well as allow better movement of emergency vehicles and buses. It would greatly decrease the cost of goods and of doing business by improving the efficiency and cost of freight delivery. The Cross Harbor Rail Freight Tunnel would remove 1,800 trucks from New York Harbor crossings per day or half a million trucks per year.
The Port Authority and the Federal Highway Administration completed a draft Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement that was published in November 2014, and following public hearings, stakeholder review and comment, a Record of Decision for the Tier 1 was issued by the FHWA in January 2016. The Tier II study will also evaluate an enhancement of the existing railcar float-barge operation.
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