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American Shipper

N.Y.-N.J. port authority buys Cross Harbor rail link

N.Y.-N.J. port authority buys Cross Harbor rail link

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has acquired and plans to rehabilitate facilities of a company that barges rail cars across New York harbor.

   The port authority will also look long term at how to move freight traffic around the harbor.

   The agency will pay $16 million for the Jersey City, N.J.-based New York New Jersey Rail Corp., which operates a rail float barge operation that that transports cargo-filled rail cars between the two states. As part of the purchase, the agency assumed the existing lease for about 27 acres of land at Greenville Yard in Jersey City.

   The rail freight barge allows rail cars to be put directly on a barge and floated across the harbor, docking at terminals at either 51st or 65th streets in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, where connections are made with businesses either locally in Brooklyn or further east on Long Island. Rail cars also are transported back across the harbor to connect to the national rail freight network via the Greenville Yard in Jersey City. Currently, a majority of the cargo transported between the two states is moved by truck.

   The agency said freight movements around the New York-New Jersey region are expected to rise 70 percent in the next 20 years.

   The port authority said it has begun preparing an environmental impact statement for the Cross Harbor Freight Movement Project, which was initially identified as a major regional issue 15 years ago.

   The agency made the announcement after a meeting at which its executive director, Chris Ward, discussed long- and short-term strategies to address the freight movement issue with New York State Transportation Commissioner Astrid Glynn, New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, and Congressman Jerrold Nadler, a long-time advocate of building a tunnel beneath the harbor for freight.

   Ward said the goal of the study, to be completed by 2010, will be to find ways to increase the region’s economic competitiveness, decrease traffic congestion, and reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

   The only other rail link across the Hudson River is operated by CSX and located 100 miles to the north near Albany. This circuitous routing adds more than 200 miles for rail freight goods traveling to and from the south and west. This rehabilitated rail float operation will provide a convenient short cut.

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