Nadler: N.Y.-N.J. port needs Brooklyn box terminal
A New York congressman renewed his call for a large new container terminal to be built in Brooklyn.
'I fundamentally believe that an active port is imperative for the economic vitality of the city and region, and that our port must retain its position of dominance on the eastern seaboard of the United States. And, I strongly believe that Brooklyn must be a part of that port,' Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., told attendees at a 'Port Industry Day' conference, which was held Monday at the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum in Manhattan.
The Port of New York and New Jersey handled 5.3 million TEUs of loaded and empty containers in 2008, and Nadler noted a 1999 study projected volumes could reach 10 million TEUs by 2020 and 17 million TEUs by 2040.
'We are going to need every inch of available land in Newark, Elizabeth, Howland Hook, Bayonne and Brooklyn,' he said. 'The only possible site left in New York City for a deepwater container port on New York Harbor with rail access is in Sunset Park,' a section in Brooklyn that includes the 74-acre South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, a multipurpose facility for roll-on/roll-off and breakbulk cargo.
But Nadler pointed to past studies that said a 350-acre container terminal around the same site could create 17,000 jobs in 20 years.
“While the city has announced its intentions to explore the development of a major deepwater container terminal in Sunset Park, my own view is that we must begin planning and development now and not delay,” he said.
He noted the port’s major container terminals in Newark and Elizabeth and on Staten Island are only reachable by ships traversing the Kill Van Kull, a waterway that has been expensive to dredge. He said an accident or terrorist attack sinking a ship in the waterway could cripple the harbor.
A Brooklyn terminal would be a hedge against such a risk, and Nadler also argued a container terminal could reduce traffic congestion from trucks draying cargo over the George Washington Bridge from New Jersey into New York and reduce costs for some shippers by landing containers at a facility east of the Hudson River.
The Kill Van Kull is traversed by the Bayonne Bridge, which connects Bayonne and Staten Island. Susan Bass Levin, deputy director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, told attendees at the conference that the agency is committed to modifying or replacing the bridge, whose low height prevents some of the largest containerships from traversing the waterway.
The big ships are expected to become more common at East Coast ports once the Panama Canal is enlarged.
John Atkins, chief operating officer of GCT USA, which operates the Global Container Terminal in Jersey City and New York Container Terminal on Staten Island, noted estimates that container companies can reduce operating expenses 17 percent by using a 12,000-TEU ships rather than 4,600-TEU ships, today’s “Panamax” size containership.
A study undertaken earlier this year by the Army Corps of Engineers for the port authority estimated the cost of jacking up the bridge at $1.3 billion, replacing it with a new bridge $2.2 billion, and replacing it with a tunnel at $2.2 billion to $3.1 billion. The port has embarked on another $10 million study of the bridge to determine the best solution to the problem, and that produced some grumbling by port businesses who are impatient for work to begin on a replacement.
But port authority engineers are now studying whether the Bayonne Bridge could be modified into a lift bridge. Rick Larrabee, port commerce director, said if that is possible, such a solution could be a 10th of the cost of other alternatives and be accomplished much more quickly. But he emphasized there is still a lot of engineering work needed to confirm such a solution is workable.
Noting the projected cargo growth at the port, Atkins said there was a need for terminals in the port to increase productivity and to be open more hours and on weekends. But he noted this would also require warehouses and other port businesses to modify their business practices so that they can receive containers. ' Chris Dupin