Shipping Industry Lobbies for More Hudson River Anchorage
Traffic on the Hudson River may not be as congested as it is in the Lincoln Tunnel that transports motorists underneath the river from New Jersey into Manhattan. But commercial vessels are a frequent sight along the waterway, and a proposal is now under consideration to provide these ships with more places to drop anchor.
The Maritime Association of the Port of New York/New Jersey Tug and Barge Committee, in association with the Hudson River Port Pilot’s Association and the American Waterways Operators, are lobbying for ten additional anchorage locations between Yonkers and Kingston, including sites at Tomkins Cove and Montrose, all north of New York City.
The Coast Guard requested public feedback on the plan and they’re getting it—more than 2,000 comments thus far—along with strongly worded objections from several city and county officials, as well as environmental organizations.
The deadline for public comment was scheduled to end on September 7, but was extended by three months, following a request from New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, along with three of the state’s House of Representative members.
In a letter sent to the Coast Guard, the legislators lobbied for the extension, saying it would “better enable the U.S. Coast Guard to work in conjunction with local, state and federal agencies and experts to find the optimal plan to ensure the safety and integrity of the Hudson Valley region and the Hudson River, its environment and its economic vitality.”
Safety and Convenience
Proponents claim the plan will make river traffic safer and more efficient. Yonkers in particular has become much busier over the past two decades, as scarcer space in New York Harbor has resulted in more vessels heading further up the river and staying longer.
No surprise, then, that the new Yonkers site comprises the largest anchorage, accommodating up to 16 vessels in a 715-acre area ranging between two of the area’s train stations, Glenwood and Dobbs Ferry. The Montrose anchorage would cover more than 125 acres and accommodate up to three vessels. Further north, additional anchorage would be made available between Tompkins Cove and Verplanck.
Much of the increase in traffic is comprised of petroleum shipments, which account for a significant percentage of the billions of tons of cargo on the Hudson every year. That is one of the main reasons for the opposition, as more oil barges result in more risk of an oil spill.
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano expressed concern that additional ship anchorage would have a negative impact on the city’s redevelopment efforts. “Yonkers objects to this proposal, which will lead to the re-industrialization of our pristine Hudson riverfront and reverse the momentum of our waterfront revitalization as evidenced by over $1 billion in new economic development,” Spano said in a statement. “We anticipate the proposed anchorages would turn our portion of the Hudson River into a parking lot for potentially volatile substances.”
Also in the “thanks, but no thanks” alliance: the Westchester Country Board of Legislators, led by Minority Leader John Testa, and Rhineback Supervisor Elizabeth Spinzia, who believes three of the new anchorage locations would have an adverse effect on local tourist attractions.
The environmental group Riverkeeper, an environmental non-profit dedicated to the protection of the Hudson River and its tributaries, has raised concerns about the impact on endangered sturgeon as well as an increase in noise and pollution in waterfront communities.