Mayor de Blasio Supports Plan for $11B Underground Cross-Harbor Freight Tunnel

Posted On Tue, October 13, 2015 By

Posted On Tue, October 13, 2015 By In Transportation

Now that he’s done battling the state for MTA funding, perhaps Mayor de Blasio can set his sights on the Port Authority and the long-proposed Cross-Harbor Rail Tunnel. Representative Jerrold Nadler has been pushing for the freight rail tunnel for three decades, but the Bloomberg administration was strongly against it. Now, Nadler has a supporter in de Blasio, and the Port Authority is even studying the plan, which calls for a tunnel running from Jersey City to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and another into Queens and Long Island.

Why do politicians feel a multibillion-dollar tunnel is necessary? WNYC points out that NYC is the most truck-dependent city in the nation. Ninety percent of the 400 million tons of freight that come through the city each year travel by truck. The reason is that “New York City has no direct link to the national freight rail network, so goods coming into the ports and rail yards in New Jersey mostly cross the river by truck.” Nadler has claimed that the new tunnel would take 2,500 trucks off the Hudson River crossings every day, thereby reducing pollution and the price of goods.

At the beginning of this year, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Federal Highway Administration decided that either a tunnel or barge system was needed to move freight across the harbor, coming up with five alternatives for each mode. Of course, the issue comes down to funding; there’s no plan in place for how to pay for the $7 to $11 billion project. But WNYC notes, “As our population grows, the economy expands, and consumers shift more of their shopping online, the amount of freight coming in and out of the city is expected to increase 46 percent by 2040. If trucks continue to carry the vast majority of it, they will aggravate traffic congestion and put even more pressure on the environment.” A final decision is expected to be reached this fall.

[Via WNYC]

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  • frankieandjake

    The tunnel doesn’t get a lot of trucks off the road. At most 2.5% of trucks come off the eastbound Hudson River and harbor crossings in a 23-county area, not just in NYC — that’s just 700-900 trucks a day, off crossings all the way up to Beacon-Newburgh. For this, the tunnel would cost $10B and bring 1,300 trucks a day into new truck terminals in Brooklyn and Queens. The tunnel study measure “air quality improvement” in a 23- or 54-county area. Meanwhile, the tunnel brings worse air quality — “pollution hot spots” — to Brooklyn and Queens at street level, where human health is adversely impacted. Benefits from the tunnel project are paltry compared to other regional projects for which there is great need, support, and payoff, such as the Cross Hudson Tunnel. PANY-NJ is already developing the Cross Harbor Float. CSX, which has over 90% of all the rail business coming in and out of NYC, already has the best rail route and yards, doesn’t need the tunnel. The Cross Harbor project admits that the tunnel is just a back-up for CSX’s Water Level Line. Did Congressman Nadler mention any of this to the Mayor?

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