With a strong start to the year, the port says it is poised to overtake the Port of Long Beach as the nation’s second-largest container port.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Monday formally opened the ExpressRail Port Jersey facility.
The ondock intermodal railyard, built at a cost of $149 million, is adjacent to and operated by Global Container Terminal’s GCT Bayonne. Global said the new facility has annual capacity of 250,000 container lifts. The yard is connected to both the CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads.
The port authority said the new facility will allow the agency to “advance its five-year strategic goal to handle more than 900,000 rail lifts a year, the equivalent of 1.5 million fewer truck trips traveling through local roads, which will greatly reduce congestion and greatly enhance air quality.”
Last year the port handled 645,760 containers at its ExpressRail terminals, 13.8% more than in 2017. In addition to ExpressRail Port Jersey, the Port of New York and New Jersey has intermodal rail yards in Elizabeth, Newark and on Staten Island.
The rail facilities were designed to reduce the port’s historically heavy reliance on trucks to transport cargo and expands its geographic cargo reach to inland hubs. Trucks still account for moving 85% of all containers on and off port terminals today.
The Port Authority also said Monday that in the first four months of this year it has handled 1,690,214 loaded TEUs and said it was “poised to overtake the Port of Long Beach as the nation’s No. 2 busiest port for the first time in at least two decades.” Long Beach handled 1,669,440 loaded TEUs in the first four months. If empty containers are included, Long Beach still edged out the Big Apple, handling 2,434,845 total TEUs in the first four months of the year compared to the 2,398,108 TEUs handled by terminals in the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said, “Completion of the rail network culminates two decades and approximately $6 billion dollars of investment in the port to drive cargo growth and in turn build on the 400,000 jobs and billions in economic activity the maritime facilities generate. In addition to spending $1.7 billion to raise the Bayonne Bridge so that larger ships can pass beneath it and the $600 million in port rail network investment, the port has also deepened harbor channels to 50 feet, rebuilt wharves and berths, greatly enhanced its internal road network and installed improved security systems and infrastructure.”
The ExpressRail Port Jersey intermodal rail facility consists of “eight tracks for active loading and unloading of cargo from GCT Bayonne that connect to two lead tracks to and from the main freight rail network. It also consists of support and train storage track and two high-efficiency, all-electric, regenerative-powered, wide-span, dual-cantilevered rail-mounted gantry cranes featuring LED lighting to load and unload containers in the intermodal yard.”
The $149 million cost of the intermodal terminal is recoverable over time through monies collected through the cargo facility charge, a fee assessed on cargo shipped through the Port of New York and New Jersey to cover the cost of critical road, rail and security infrastructure projects. Port authority capital funds were deployed to front-end the investment.