View Full Version : New Support for a Harbor Freight Tunnel

June 4th, 2003, 07:36 AM
June 4, 2003

Coalition Adds New Support for a Harbor Freight Tunnel


A proposal to reduce truck traffic in New York City and the region by building a rail freight tunnel under New York Harbor got new support yesterday when a broad group of business, labor, environmental and civic leaders announced that they had formed a coalition to lobby for federal money for the project.

The coalition, which includes representatives of groups ranging from the Sierra Club and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce to the state A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, wants Congress to help pay for the project out of a transportation spending bill currently up for reauthorization.

The group, called MoveNY, says the tunnel would divert nearly a million truck trips a year from the George Washington Bridge, reduce pollution in city neighborhoods with high asthma rates, cut traffic delays in the region, generate tens of thousands of jobs, save highway maintenance costs and limit the risks of terrorism presented by unscreened trucks.

"It's clearly technically feasible to do this tunnel," said Francis X. McArdle, managing director of the General Contractors Association of New York and a member of the coalition. "And we believe that it is an economic advantage to this region to make this investment. Not only will it help us to continually grow, but it gives us some opportunities for economic development that we would not otherwise have."

Representative Jerrold L. Nadler, a Manhattan Democrat, has been interested in the project throughout the last 20 years. Skeptics who considered the idea in its earlier incarnations have argued that the reduction in truck traffic would be smaller than proponents contend because most freight would still move by truck within the city. They have also said the city was no longer a competitive location for the kind of high-volume, mass-production industries that rely heavily on rail.

"It's a 19th-century project that's two centuries too late," said Mitchell L. Moss, director of the Taub Urban Research Center at New York University and a co-author of a 1998 analysis of the tunnel idea. "And this project represents a threat to much more important priorities to the city and the region."

The idea of a rail freight connection by tunnel between New Jersey and the area across New York Harbor has been tossed around since the 1920's, Mr. McArdle and others said. For many years, rail freight was transported across the harbor by float bridge. But even that ended after the merger of the Pennsylvania and New York Central Railroads in 1968 and the subsequent creation of Conrail in 1976.

Now less than 2 percent of all freight coming in and out of the region is transported by rail, compared with 40 percent in cities nationally, Mr. Nadler said. The nearest railroad crossing over the Hudson is 140 miles north of the city in Selkirk, just south of Albany.

"We've got a real crisis now in goods movement, and it's only going to get worse," said Robert D. Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association and a member of the coalition. "The volumes of freight moving into and through the region are increasing at about 3 percent a year. Over a decade, that's by a third. And you think about what congestion is like on the George Washington Bridge and the Tappan Zee now. There's just no place to put it."

The 19 coalition members range from labor union leaders including Dennis Rivera, president of Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union; and environmentalists like James T. B. Tripp, general counsel for Environmental Defense, formerly the Environmental Defense Fund; to business leaders like Kenneth Adams, president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce; and civic activists like Dr. Rafael A. Lantigua, chairman of the board of directors of Alianza Dominicana, the largest Dominican social service agency in the city.

Dr. Lantigua, an internist and professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University, said he joined the coalition because he has lived in Washington Heights his entire life and works there. He has "no doubt that the amount of bronchial asthma that we see in this area is linked to the pollution of the traffic across the George Washington Bridge."

The tunnel would create a Hudson River crossing connecting freight railroads in New Jersey to unused railroads in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Mr. Nadler said the most recent estimate of the cost of the tunnel alone was $1.8 billion; the cost of the entire project, including rail improvements, has been put at $7 billion.

Members of the coalition said they wanted to persuade Congress to pay for the design and perhaps the next steps of the project out of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, a pending bill that is intended to pay for major transportation projects for the next six years.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

June 4th, 2003, 09:47 AM
Another flash in the pan?

June 4th, 2003, 10:02 AM
I hope it keeps flashing. *This is one construction project that, although not visible physically to the public, will have major impact. *

To me, as important as a rail link to the airports.

June 4th, 2003, 10:12 AM
This makes so much sense, we should just forget about it.

June 4th, 2003, 03:04 PM
Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see it built. *It's just that it seems like every few years there's a upsurge of talk about it and then nothing happens. *It was a pet project of Guilliani's, and yes, it was one of the main reasons for creating the Port Authority generations ago.

(Edited by dbhstockton at 3:05 pm on June 4, 2003)

June 4th, 2003, 03:13 PM
Actually, I was agreeing with your cynicism that this gets off the ground any time soon.

June 5th, 2003, 01:53 AM
Carfloat makes a lot of sense, too. *Again, you hear about it every few years and then nothing ever happens. *One can only hope something will happen this time.

June 6th, 2003, 11:32 AM
Mandala's thread on rail-float traffic. (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/topic.cgi?forum=1&topic=322)

June 6, 2003

Build a New Tunnel

To the Editor:

A freight tunnel from Brooklyn to New Jersey (news article, June 4) is a project some 80 years overdue. Many planners also advocate the construction of new tunnels to bring Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit trains directly to Lower Manhattan.

These projects should be integrated. A super tunnel — with sufficient clearances for freights — should be built under the East River from Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan, where it would split into two levels. The lower level would carry freight trains directly to New Jersey through a new tunnel under the Hudson. The upper level would serve "Memorial Station," a railway station under or adjacent to the World Trade Center memorial site.

Such a project would remove truck and auto traffic from the highways and pollution from the air, while offering a much more convenient trip to Lower Manhattan for millions of people.

Los Angeles, June 4, 2003

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

(Edited by Christian Wieland at 2:35 pm on June 6, 2003)

June 8th, 2003, 09:44 PM
There's no way a freight rail tunnel could or should be built below Manhattan, the freight rail tunnel in Baltimore last year could have been a disastor.

A burning freight train with hazardous materials or even garbage on fire in a tunnel under Lower Manhattan would not be a pretty sight.

Then there's the C02 from the Diesel powered Freight engines, they would have to be diesel powered since most of the former Pennsylvania Rail Road's wired freight territory was torn down by Conrail.

The freight trains have to be by themselves, in a tunnel under NY Harbor. With a big ass vents in NJ, Governor's Island and Brooklyn to keep re-cycling the air so as not to kill or put to sleep the freight train engineers.

It's a tough call but I would put a new Hudson river tunnel for Amtrak and NJ Transit to Penn Station ahead of this project, although I think this project will lead to a boom of industry in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island and it will definetly take trucks off of the George Washington Bridge.

The George Washington Bridge is the busiest crossing in the World, taking "some" trucks off there will improve commuters lives and the people in the Bronx who live with respatory problems from all the trucks.

June 8th, 2003, 09:54 PM
Read the article, it's not going to be under Lower Manhattan.

June 10th, 2003, 11:50 PM
"A super tunnel — with sufficient clearances for freights — should be built under the East River from Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan, where it would split into two levels. The lower level would carry freight trains directly to New Jersey through a new tunnel under the Hudson. The upper level would serve "Memorial Station," a railway station under or adjacent to the World Trade Center memorial site. "

In the plan being put foward by the coalition the tunnel would not go under Manhattan, but the idea of the person who's quoted in that op/ed it would.

June 11th, 2003, 10:58 AM

June 11th, 2003, 11:03 PM
I think a good portion of that 40 will be waste/garbage leaving the City and Long Island for dumps in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Indiana.

May 12th, 2004, 11:18 AM
Jersey City to fight NYC 'trash tunnel'
Fears negative impact on Jersey side; says more studies needed

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

By Maria Zingaro Conte
Journal staff writer

Both Jersey City Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham and the City Council are fighting a proposed freight rail tunnel that would run between Brooklyn and Jersey City, fearing the new crossing would pose hazards to the economy and the environment, especially if it were used to haul garbage.

Dubbed by some as the "trash tunnel," administration officials this week urged the council to adopt a resolution at tonight's meeting calling on the New York City Economic Development Corporation - the project's sponsor - to withdraw the tunnel proposal until a comprehensive environmental study can be done.

As proposed, the tunnel would stretch for 51/2 miles beneath Upper New York Bay and link the Greenville Yards in Jersey City with the 65th Street Yard in Brooklyn.

NYCEDC spokeswoman Janel Patterson declined to comment on the project yesterday, but according to her organization's Web site, the tunnel would reduce truck traffic on area roads and improve air quality.

Because New York City relies almost entirely on trucks to move freight into and out of the region, the Web site said, trucks are a significant contributor to traffic congestion.

A cross-harbor tunnel would link Brooklyn to key rail freight lines in New Jersey and encourage shippers to make trips by rail rather than truck. Up to 5 percent of truck trips - about 1.5 million rides annually - would be eliminated if the tunnel is built, according to a study by the NYCEDC.

But Jersey City officials say not enough is known about the potential negative effects for New Jersey.

"It's clear from the preliminary examination that there are a lot of areas that they haven't examined," said Doug Greenfield of the Jersey City Housing, Economic Development and Commerce Department.

Among other things, the environmental impact study does not consider the effects the tunnel would have on air and storm water quality, noise and pollutant runoff to the Meadowlands. Nor does it consider how the tunnel would constrain the expansion of Port Jersey in Jersey City or the development of a deep-water port off Bayonne.

According to Greenfield, trains entering Jersey City through the tunnel would use existing tracks on the New Jersey side, decreasing their availability to Jersey City industries and ports.

"If they become occupied by trains heading through the tunnel, it's a problem for Jersey City firms that rely on the rail. (It is also a problem) for the potential for future expansion," he said.

The potential for the tunnel to be used for trash hauling has also raised concerns.

Although the NYCEDC's environmental impact study did not consider the effects of transporting solid waste through the tunnel - waste was not on the list of potential tunnel cargo - Jersey City is bracing for trash to eventually make its way through the underwater passage.

"You have to look at what we know," Greenfield said. "We know that New York City has a problem that they're trying to solve as to how to move their garbage. They're looking to build a tunnel from New York City to Jersey City. I think the rest is just deduction."

City officials vowed to work to stop the tunnel.

"We do not need to be a garbage transfer locality for the city of New York," Cunningham said yesterday.

The mayor also said the tunnel could affect the future development of the city's waterfront.

"Who wants to live next to a train that runs by every 15 minutes?" he said.

Council members shared similar sentiments.

"New York City is trying to address its problems without looking at the impact," Councilman-at-Large Mariano Vega said at Monday's caucus. "I smell a rat."

Along with additional environmental studies, the council resolution calls for alternatives to be considered, including a tunnel connecting Brooklyn and Newark, a Hudson River bridge crossing at Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and the expansion of the existing rail freight network.

The proposed plan would have a disproportionate impact on the "lower income, historically disadvantaged and foreign born populations along the Greenville Branch," the resolution said.

"We need to slow this down and extend the period of study," said Council President L. Harvey Smith.

Cunningham, who is also a state senator, said last week that he would introduce a resolution in the Senate opposing the project.

Assemblyman Lou Manzo of Jersey City will present a similar resolution in the Assembly.

"If you look at the proportion of solid waste facilities in New Jersey, there's a disproportionate number that are located in Hudson County and a disproportionate number that are located in Jersey City," he said. "Because we have such a density overall, we shouldn't have the projects."

Maria Zingaro Conte covers Jersey City. She can be reached at mzconte@jjournal.com.

Copyright 2004 The Jersey Journal.

March 3rd, 2005, 11:14 PM
Another case of bad judgement by our mayor:

March 4th, 2005, 07:12 AM
March 4, 2005

In Shift, Bloomberg Opposes Rail Tunnel

By SEWELL CHAN (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=SEWELL%20CHAN&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=SEWELL%20CHAN&inline=nyt-per) and JIM RUTENBERG (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=JIM%20RUTENBERG&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=JIM%20RUTENBERG&inline=nyt-per)

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/dropcap/m.gifayor Michael R. Bloomberg suddenly announced his opposition last night to a proposed freight rail tunnel under the New York Harbor, a sharp reversal of his administration's earlier support for the project.

The mayor spoke out against the project at a community meeting in Middle Village, Queens.

"I think when you get done looking at all the pros and cons," Mr. Bloomberg said, "the answer is we should not build this tunnel."

The freight tunnel's terminal would be built in a nearby neighborhood, Maspeth, and residents have mobilized against the project, saying the area would be overwhelmed by noisy trucks and diesel exhaust.

Mr. Bloomberg told the meeting in Middle Village, "You really would destroy neighborhoods here in this area, and we just can't do this at this point."

The tunnel, with an estimated cost of as much as $7 billion, has become politically charged. The mayor's leading Democratic opponent, Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough president, is a longtime supporter of the tunnel. Three other Democrats who are running for mayor also announced their support recently: C. Virginia Fields, the Manhattan borough president; Gifford Miller, the City Council speaker, and Representative Anthony D. Weiner of Brooklyn and Queens.

Planning for the tunnel began under Mr. Bloomberg's predecessor, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and has advanced in the last three years. Last April, the city's Economic Development Corporation, in a study known as a draft environmental impact statement, endorsed the project. It concluded that the tunnel should be built between Jersey City and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Financing for the multibillion project has yet to be determined. In a sense, the project does not depend on the mayor's support, since most of the funding is to come from the federal government. Aides to the mayor consider the support of middle-class voters in Queens and Brooklyn important to his bid for re-election.

The project's major champion, Representative Jerrold L. Nadler, said he was unfazed by the mayor's remarks.

"In light of the city's own findings that the cross-harbor tunnel would bring crucial economic, health, environmental and national security benefits to New York, it's disappointing that the mayor feels compelled to back down from his full-on support of the project," Mr. Nadler, a Manhattan Democrat, said in a telephone interview. "His public stance, however, is not a central force in the advancement of the project."

He said he expected the Economic Development Corporation, which is working on the final environmental impact statement, to "actively look for ways of mitigating the impact on Maspeth, as it should."

Mr. Nadler said the government had already invested $22 million in the studies. He said he expected money for engineering and design work to be included when Congress reauthorizes the major federal transportation bill, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. Additional federal money would be needed for construction, which he said could start by 2009.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

March 4th, 2005, 07:15 AM

August 3rd, 2005, 06:48 AM
August 3, 2005
$100 Million for a Tunnel. What Tunnel?

By SEWELL CHAN (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=SEWELL CHAN&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=SEWELL CHAN&inline=nyt-per)

Hours after the House of Representatives approved a big transportation bill on Friday morning, Representative Jerrold L. Nadler informed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that it would get a $100 million federal grant to design and engineer a freight tunnel under New York Harbor.

Usually, news of such largesse would be cause for celebration. But the Port Authority did not ask for the $100 million, says it did not know about the grant, and is not very interested in the project.

"For us to say that we're committed at this point in time and can commit any funds to it would be premature," the authority's executive director, Kenneth J. Ringler Jr., said this week.

The unusual circumstances surrounding the $100 million grant - which dwarfs all other individual appropriations for New York - reveal much about the peculiarities of federal transportation spending, in which huge appropriations are approved every few years in a manner that some deride as a pork opportunity for individual lawmakers.

In contrast to other projects in the $286.4 billion transportation spending bill, the cross-harbor tunnel is viewed by many planners as a worthy endeavor that could sharply reduce traffic congestion, reduce air pollution and improve the movement of goods throughout the region.

But no agency has agreed to build the tunnel, which could cost $4.8 billion to $7.4 billion, depending on its width. Under the most optimistic estimates, construction would begin in 2009 and last at least four years.

To complicate matters, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, in a sharp reversal, has come out against the project, citing the objections of residents in and around Maspeth, Queens, where a freight terminal would be built.

The tunnel has been the dream of Mr. Nadler, one of the most prominent Democrats on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and it would run from Jersey City, N.J., to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. From there, trains would continue on to Queens using existing tracks that connect with the Long Island Rail Road and CSX, the giant freight railroad.

A cross-harbor freight tunnel was discussed as early as 1893, and building it was an early goal of the Port Authority. Indeed, the authority was created in 1921 to reduce the cost and uncertainty of freight shipments, said Prof. Jameson W. Doig, a political scientist at Princeton University who has written extensively about the Port Authority; a cross-harbor tunnel was identified as an important solution.

Lack of cooperation from the railroads, which were fiercely competing with each other, crippled the plan, Professor Doig said, and by 1940 the Port Authority had abandoned the project.

It was Mr. Bloomberg's predecessor, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who gave it new momentum. Under Mr. Giuliani, the city's Economic Development Corporation, working with the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration, began a major study of the need for the tunnel in 1998. That study, and an environmental study completed last year, endorsed the project.

But Mr. Bloomberg, speaking at a community meeting in March, abruptly withdrew support for the project and the Economic Development Corporation, which has worked on the project for seven years, does not plan to complete the environmental impact statement, which would be required for the project to proceed.

"The administration has said numerous times that we do not support the cross-harbor tunnel because it would have adverse effects on many neighborhoods throughout the city," said Janel Patterson, a spokeswoman for the corporation. The completion of the draft study "ends our role in the project," she said.

Perhaps the biggest barrier to the project is its low place on the agendas of the two people who control the Port Authority: Gov. George E. Pataki of New York and Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey of New Jersey.

Mr. Codey wants the authority to focus on a new passenger-train tunnel under the Hudson River, to be used by New Jersey Transit. Mr. Pataki has called on the authority to build a different tunnel - one that would allow a "one seat" train ride from Lower Manhattan to Kennedy International Airport.

"There are competing priorities for limited resources," Mr. Ringler of the Port Authority said in a telephone interview. "We have to figure out and determine which projects we should be investing in. That said, the governors of our two states have been very clear where they feel our priorities should be."

Mr. Ringler said he appreciated Mr. Nadler's dedication to the project, but added that there was a gap of billions of dollars "between what Congress appropriated and what this project is going to cost."

Meanwhile, the project has been in a state of limbo and will probably remain so until the Port Authority begins the planning and engineering work. A coalition of business, labor and environmental groups has created a Web site - www.moveny.org (http://www.moveny.org/) - to support the tunnel, but its opponents also have been speaking out.

"We're going to make central Queens the truck capital of North America if this occurs," said Mitchell L. Moss, a professor of urban policy and planning at New York University.

The $100 million is one of dozens of appropriations for New York City in the spending bill, some with seemingly tenuous connections to New York's transportation needs. Other projects include $15 million to begin ferry service between the Rockaways and Lower Manhattan; $3 million each for improvements around the New York Public Library and the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and $1 million to build a greenway on the Manhattan waterfront between East River Park and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Mr. Nadler maintained that the $100 million grant was a major accomplishment. "It's a great step forward in the long-term fight for this absolutely necessary project," he said. "It represents a recognition by Congress that this is indeed a project of national significance."

However, he conceded that it would probably take the election of new governors - in New Jersey this year and in New York next year - before the Port Authority would commit to realizing the project.

"Politicians change, priorities change, governors change," Mr. Nadler said. "This project is very long term."


Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

August 3rd, 2005, 08:41 AM
Taking an equally long view, why restrict the project to freight? It could be the basis of a circumferential transit route (much needed) that would promote more evenly-spread transit-based development over a large area, and greater integration of New Jersey and the boroughs. It could also provide a speedy link between EWR and JFK.

August 3rd, 2005, 11:06 AM
It would be good to have a direct line from NJ to (Is it Kennedy or Laguardia on the south side?), but a freight line is questionable simply from the standpoint of the garbage situation.

Garbage WOULD be shipped on it, there is no doubt.

Now, one thing hit me as I looked at the map, why have they not proposed making more connections with Staten Island? Traffic there is a beast as-is. Would there be some way to facilitate a route that utilizes possibly cheaper over-land construction on the island? Or has everything been built on every piece of land not steaming from a recent landfill?

I can also see why people would be against industrial development of possible future waterfront property, but have you been down there lately? the area is not exactly prime real-estate yet. Also, making a direct connection might make it worth more in th elong run if it WAS commuter.

I think the one thing that they should consider would be a two-stop commuter line that would go from some place like Newark or JC, strait into the WFC, and then out to Brooklyn/queens/LIRR OR the airports. Something to link these major transportation hubs together without having to play the commuter-dance.

August 3rd, 2005, 01:53 PM
I think this tunnel is a great idea. Have you seen the main highways in and around NYC? They are jam packed with trucks. This tunnel will help not only the highways around NYC, but also the LI roads, epsecially if New York Atlantic Railway gets the Pilgrim intermodal facility done. That means rail shipments straight through the tunnel, via the LIRR main line, to Pilgrim.

Also, I originally supported this soley as a tunnel to SI. However, now I'm seeing the benefits of this tunnel to Jersey City. The best option, IMO, would be to build both. One track to Jersey City, and one track to St. George.

As for commuter rail service, commuter trains could be operated from Jamaica, down the Bay Ridge line, through the tunnel, and up to Jersey City.

Honestly, the JC alignment is what they have chosen, and if anything gets built, it will be the only one. Still, I think commuter rail service would be successful.

For now though, the focus is on freight, and that's how it should be.

And the demand is certainly there. Just look at all the trucks on the highways out there.

August 3rd, 2005, 08:03 PM
When you take your car from France to England on the Chunnel, you drive onto double-decker railcars. Could the trucks just drive straight onto flatcars and be rail-ferried through the tunnel?

Then, they could put congestion-charge tolls on the East River bridges.

No more through-trucks on the streets.

August 4th, 2005, 08:53 AM
The rail freight being discussed here is COFC. Containers on flat cars. Trains originate on the west coast. Instead of unloading the containers onto trucks at New Jersey yards, the containers stay on the freight cars and are unloaded in Queens or out on Long Island.

The tunnel eliminates the interstate truck haul from the industrialized areas of New Jersey and dumps it onto the residential streets of western Queens.

Less container truck traffic on the GWB, VZB, and Lincoln Tunnel.

Local roads in Queens would be overwhelmed to crisis conditions.

Not really. Some would be, but a lot of the trailers are going there in the first place. They would not ship a container to Queens and Brooklyn if it was going to Piscataway....

Anyway, one interesting point though. Have you driven by the loading-unloading yards in NJ? (Raritan I believe, along the NJTP). Those piles go up 10-15 trailers HIGH! And the space they take up is ENORMOUS! I do not know of an area in the boroughs that would be able to handle that.....

August 4th, 2005, 08:55 AM
Local roads in Queens would be overwhelmed to crisis conditions.

Queens has an enormous amount of land area and this wouldn't draw all truck traffic there. I don't buy this argument.

August 6th, 2005, 11:11 AM
Would you like a tour of the proposed intermodal yard location in Maspeth?

I took a tunnel advocate on the tour and her mouth dropped open in shock. She couldn't believe they would jam an intermodal yard into such a small area, with only a few access roads. Needless to say she is no longer a tunnel advocate, and feels like she had been mislead all along.

Ready for some enlightenment?

I'm reserving my judgement about this until I get to know more about it. What I said was that I don't buy this argument based on what I know of Queens as I used to live there. There are parts of Queens that would be suited for a truck/train yard.

August 6th, 2005, 07:50 PM
Neither is Greenville, JC. It is not a good place to have freight trains running every 30 minutes, 24/7, bringing goods to NYC and taking out its garbage. Greenville and other parts of JC through which the trains are projected to run are very densely populated. Can you please keep it a strictly NYC affair that it already is?

How about the Brooklyn-Staten Island alignment? Keep JC out of it!!!

August 7th, 2005, 10:22 AM
Remember, as long as NYA gets the Pilgrim facility, not all the trains will unload in Maspeth. There will still be a significant amount of the LI traffic unloading at Pilgrim.

August 7th, 2005, 10:42 AM
Check out the Environmental Impact Statement at www.crossharborstudy.org (http://www.crossharborstudy.org)

Communities will be impacted not only by the truck traffic at the intermodal facilities, but also by diesel locomotive and noise emissions along the rail branches which will carry the increased rail traffic.

Having said that, and being a Greenville resident, if the NJ Portal is close to Newark Bay (far from residential areas of JC and Bayonne - more than 3,000 feet), and if no other train traffic goes thru JC (Great Docks Branch) as a result of the Tunnel - I am open for discussion.

Also - no NY trash on returning trains. I don't think Nadler ever mentioned that, buy it is too logical not to happen.

Best yet - keep it between Brooklyn and SI.

NIMBY, bro.

August 18th, 2005, 07:17 PM
I most definately don't see this happening both the states of NY & NJ and the mayors of JC & NYC are against it. Everyone says it's going no where so I don't think the residents of JC, QNS, or BKLYN have to worry about garbage going though their neighborhoods.

August 20th, 2005, 09:52 PM
Why would it make any different for JC? The north side of Greenville Yard is currently full of junk. Big ship and garbage all over the place. That place is very close to residential area and the to-be GPA golf course. But the workers with heavy machines still sort out the garbage in open space day and night… So much eyesore and loud noise anyway. Not an attack to JC, but I don't see the new tunnel will make anything worst.

August 21st, 2005, 08:53 PM
Yeah, if anything, it will improve the situation in JC because it will no longer be the transfer site, clearing things up there. And as long as NYA gets Pilgrim yard, LOTS of the activity will be there, at Pilgrim and not in Maspeth

August 22nd, 2005, 09:32 AM
There aren't too many other projects out there that directly address road congestion and degradation with an alternative beyond "build more roads" or "repair and repave". This is a real alternative and it does strike a blow to the trucking industry as much as move items for trucking quickly through the most congested bottle neck.

August 22nd, 2005, 05:31 PM
It will certainly get alot of trucks of NJ roads, however there's lot's of corresponding work that needs to be done on the Freight lines through NJ and Eastern Pennsylvania to make the tunnel effective and avoid rail bottlenecks which would push transporters back to trucks.

August 22nd, 2005, 07:56 PM
This is a real alternative and it does strike a blow to the trucking industry as much as move items for trucking quickly through the most congested bottle neck.

Sorry if I've posted this already, but I heard a stock analyst reccomend railroad stocks because fossil fuel costs are a much smaller portion of railroad operation costs than long-haul truck operations. As fuel costs rise, the cost of truck transport will make rail even more attractive than it is now.

January 31st, 2007, 07:36 AM
January 31, 2007

Mystery Freight Train Out of Queens? It May Soon Be a Familiar Sight

odd Heisler/The New York Times
Tom Materka, an engineer, climbing to an engine at the New York & Atlantic Railway yard in Glendale, Queens.

New York & Atlantic Railway freight trains range as far west as
Bay Ridge in Brooklyn and as far east as Bridgehampton in Suffolk County.


EASTPORT, N.Y. — Gritty freight trains may be a familiar sight out West and in cowboy movies, but in Queens and Brooklyn and the neat suburbs of Long Island, they are a roaring, sooty cause for a big double take.

“We go through here every day, and everyone still looks at us like ‘What the heck is this?’ ” said Tom Materka, a rail freight engineer, as the train approached the Hicksville station, one of the Long Island Rail Road’s busiest commuter stops, one recent afternoon. “People are always shocked to see a freight train coming through here.”

Mr. Materka, 30, an engineer for the New York & Atlantic Railway, one of the few remaining short-line rail freight companies in the region, was running two screaming 120-ton diesel locomotives towing a string of sooty boxcars from Queens out to eastern Long Island. Well-dressed commuters looked up from their newspapers and coffee and stared as the smoky train roared by and transformed the suburban station into Tumbleweed Junction.

The line uses obscure rail tracks in Queens and Brooklyn and tracks of the Long Island Rail Road in Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

Since freight trains are far outnumbered by commuter trains, few people glimpse the bulky, graffiti-covered boxcars as they lumber past the sleek silver commuter cars rushing passengers to or from Pennsylvania Station.

But passengers can expect to see more of these trains soon. Transportation experts, government officials and rail freight advocates say conditions are suddenly in their favor.

New York’s new governor, Eliot Spitzer, a Democrat, favors expanding rail freight, as does United States Representative Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat whose district includes parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Mr. Nadler, a longtime champion of building a rail freight tunnel under New York Harbor to reduce truck traffic, helped obtain $100 million in federal money in 2005 to study the tunnel project, and his power has increased now that the Democrats have a majority in Congress.

Given that political climate, and the effect high fuel costs have on prices of goods trucked in, experts say they expect a huge increase in rail cargo in the New York area. The city gets roughly 2 percent of its goods by rail, compared with a 40 percent average figure nationally, experts say.

Also, a new waste management plan for New York City calls for more reliance on rail freight to ship waste out. The city is set to activate a rail freight line on Staten Island and is seeking to expand rail activity in Bay Ridge, where a short-line railroad floats rail cars from New Jersey across New York Harbor to Brooklyn to be picked up by New York & Atlantic.

Since taking over the Long Island Rail Road’s freight operation in 1997, New York & Atlantic has managed to navigate the tricky, obscure rail tracks in Queens and Brooklyn and dodge the thick traffic of the Long Island Rail Road, the busiest commuter line in the country. Annual totals have increased to about 22,000 carloads last year from 9,000 in 1997.

This little-noticed suburban rail line has become the little engine that could, and proposed increases in rail freight could thrust it into a much larger role, as would plans to create new depots on Long Island to reduce truck traffic on the Long Island Expressway.

“Rail freight is expanding here and we’re going to grow with it,” said New York & Atlantic’s general manager, Mark Westerfield. “We’re connected to the national network, and the rest of the country relies on rail freight.”

Operations are limited by the size of the main yard at Fresh Pond Junction in Glendale, Queens, he said, and by the capacity and condition of the tracks, overpasses and aging signal systems for the line’s fleet of 13 locomotives, some of them a half-century old. Mr. Westerfield said he was seeking government money to help the railway expand operations.

The company has 10 years left on its exclusive contract with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for track use; after that, it has the right to renew for another 20 years, he said. One morning this month at the Fresh Pond yard, next to a neighborhood of homes, a crew connected the 50-foot-long hoppers and boxcars to be delivered to Long Island: baking flour headed to Lindenhurst, oats bound for Belmont Park racetrack, plastic pellets and bricks headed for Hicksville, and chicken feed for Eastport.

The conductor, Jeremy Lally, 31, of Bohemia, on Long Island, and his burly brakeman, Sean McCarthy, 29, of Huntington, swung on and off the train and threw hand switches, just as in old movies. Mr. Materka, of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, nimbly handled a set of old valves and heavy handles on the control stand, to maneuver the diesel from track to track, picking up the cars by ramming into their massive steel couplings.

The other two men hoisted themselves up the steep metal steps onto the hulking locomotive and along a catwalk into the engine’s cab, and soon the train was chugging east toward the Jamaica rail hub, carefully avoiding the path of oncoming rush-hour commuters speeding toward Penn Station.

The winter sun streaked through the locomotive cab’s narrow windows as Mr. Lally thumbed through his huge book of rail schedules to see which trains were ahead and behind them.

Passenger trains have priority, and the freight conductor’s biggest priority is finding gaps in the commuter train schedule. Mr. Lally constantly called and radioed to control towers to see when the train could pass through stations between commuter trains, while Mr. Materka pulled the near-deafening horn incessantly to warn cars and pedestrians at traffic crossings.

The freight line, with its 10 train crews on duty each day, serves about 80 businesses in Brooklyn and Queens and on Long Island. It extends to Bridgehampton on the South Fork of Long Island and Southold on the North Fork. Its cargo includes produce, lumber, asphalt, paper, plastics, rice, beer, onions, road salt, building materials, recyclables, chemicals, iron, steel.

Most cars come down from upstate New York or Connecticut through the Bronx, across the Hell Gate Bridge over the East River, and through Queens. They pass highways and dense urban landscape and, as the Manhattan skyline recedes, the scenery turns to a blur of backyards, ball fields and strip malls.

The locomotive is a 2,000-horsepower diesel, about 30 years old, with a 3,000-gallon diesel fuel capacity. Two or three locomotives are usually hitched together so that the huge train can accelerate to avoid the commuter trains.

The crew members hopped out to throw large levers connected to antiquated-looking track switches, to allow the train to enter various sidings and yards for deliveries and pickups.

Many spur lines and off-ramps are now rusted and overgrown, but lately the crew members have seen signs of revival, as some companies build new sidings to make way for rail service.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

January 31st, 2007, 08:02 AM

Build that freight tunnel!

But be extra vigilant that freight doesn't slow passenger trains, as it does everywhere else in the country.

January 31st, 2007, 07:58 PM
I've yet to have my train be slowed by an NYA train. These guys are VERY consciencious about keeping things moving as quickly as possible. The reason freights back things up in other parts of the country is because there are so many of the slow, long, frieght trains. These trains are short and pretty fast because they use multiple locos for acceleration. The ONLY train that one could even start to consider long is the summertime stone train which is only 50 cars long.

January 31st, 2007, 08:04 PM
I've yet to have my train be slowed by an NYA train. These guys are VERY consciencious about keeping things moving as quickly as possible.
Good news. Hope it doesn't change.

The reason freights back things up in other parts of the country is because there are so many of the slow, long, frieght trains.
Can't understand why passenger trains don't take priority over freight. Does freight have to meet a tight schedule, as passengers do?

January 31st, 2007, 08:29 PM
^ If its anything like in Canada the tracks are owned by freight companies so they give preference to their own trains.

January 31st, 2007, 11:09 PM
Yes friehgt must meet certain schedules just not as frquently. This is good news people should stop being shocked. Good to see indsustry returning to NY and see what Jersey has been doing for years!!!

February 1st, 2007, 07:09 PM
ED007Toronto is right. In most of the U.S., commuter rail and intercity passenger rail trains borrow access to privately owner freight tracks. The freight carriers, which own the tracks, take priority, and the passenger trains must operate under their terms.

In most of the NY region, and a few other places around the country, public agencies have purchased the tracks, and so passengers have priority over freight. The rights of way are extremely expensive to purchase at market rates, which isn't surprising, but is still outrageous if you think about it (since the government gave the land to the railroads in the first place).

If the freight tunnel is built, in a few years we will most likely find ourselves needing to develop additional tracks in some places where there is not enough capacity for freight and passengers to co-exist. I've heard the route between the Bronx and New Haven mentioned as one place where this might be the case, and there will possibly be bottlenecks on Long Island as well.

February 3rd, 2007, 07:18 PM
As was just posted, freight railroads own the tracks in most of the country. That's why you're lucky if your Amtrak from Florida arrives in New York only 4 hours late. California Zephyr(Chicago-San Fran) is usually atleast 5 hrs late last I heard(gives me something to look forward to for when I transfer out to Salt Lake City). In Florida, the state owns the tracks that Amtrak and Tri-Rail run on, and preferance is normally given to passenger(or atleast I figure because Amtrak normally runs on time for that stretch).

In the Northeast, the tracks from Washington to Boston, with the exception of New Rochelle to New Haven, are owned by Amtrak, so their trains get priority there. From New Rochelle to New Haven is the MTA(Metro North), so they get priority(as it is with every line operated on by the MTA with the exception of the LIRR tunnels into Penn Station). NJ Transit, I believe, is the owner of all the lines they run on except the tunnels into Penn Station as well as the Northeast Corridor line.

On Long Island, there is the potential for SERIOUS problems with freight. LIRR needs to build the 3rd track on the main line(which is going to happen soon) AND needs to get the Ronkonkoma line east of Farmingdale double tracked already! I believe the freight tunnel would be tied into the project to build an intermodal yard near the Pilgrim Psychiatric Hospital. I don't think they are going to run very many freight trains into the yard(this is Long Island, not Kansas City). Regardless, they still need to add the tracks. The LIRR can hardly operate the passenger service with things the way they are now.

February 3rd, 2007, 09:49 PM
As was just posted, freight railroads own the tracks in most of the country. That's why you're lucky if your Amtrak from Florida arrives in New York only 4 hours late. California Zephyr(Chicago-San Fran) is usually atleast 5 hrs late last I heard(gives me something to look forward to for when I transfer out to Salt Lake City).

Why are you moving to Salt Lake City?

February 4th, 2007, 02:35 PM
I might transfer to University of Colorado

February 4th, 2007, 05:40 PM
Why not build two tunnels in the longterm? One can be designated for freight use and the other, high speed rail. We could use both, especially when there's no mid-speed transportation option available in the region, especially in America.

Just my two cents.

Btw, Acela doesn't count as mid-speed transportation as its max speed in the NYC area is 85 mph(150 around Boston).

February 4th, 2007, 09:20 PM
I might transfer to University of Colorado

Long way from Salt Lake City ...

February 4th, 2007, 11:17 PM
Why are you moving to Salt Lake City?

I might transfer to University of ColoradoThat's one helluva commute to class, wouldn't you say? :D

February 5th, 2007, 12:22 AM
I might transfer to University of Colorado

I took the CZ this summer. I got to Oakland 9.5 hours late. Awesome.

February 5th, 2007, 10:21 PM
Wow, I don't know why I said UCO. I meant University of Utah. It was probably b/c I was talking with a friend who goes to UCO in Boulder. Yeah, the CZ is not a trustworthy route....nor is really any Amtrak long distance route

February 6th, 2007, 09:46 PM
I took the CZ this summer. I got to Oakland 9.5 hours late. Awesome.
It's not really transportation, is it? More like a cruise.

February 7th, 2007, 12:42 AM
On a cruise you stare out at water as far as you can see. With the CZ you stare out at dirt. We were rerouted AROUND the Rockies due to track work. Also it cost less to fly back over the identical route, not to mention a whole lot faster.

February 7th, 2007, 01:17 AM
So you went through Texas / New Mexico ?

February 8th, 2007, 11:40 AM
Ouch, you really got screwed over. I heard the normal route is beautiful.

February 14th, 2007, 06:54 PM
An old plan for a harbor tunnel (from the National Archives exhibit "Designs for Democracy (http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/designs_for_democracy/grand_plans_for_a_growing_nation/growing_nation_page_1.html#)") ...

"Design for a Tubular Wrought Iron Tunnel to connect the Cities of New York and Brooklyn"

Designed by Richard Foley and Edwin Ferguson, 1867



October 17th, 2007, 04:34 AM
In Shift, Officials Will Weigh Cross-Harbor Freight Tunnel

By PATRICK McGEEHAN (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/patrick_mcgeehan/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: October 17, 2007
Two years after turning its back on $100 million in federal funds for planning better ways to move freight, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/p/port_authority_of_new_york_and_new_jersey/index.html?inline=nyt-org) has spun around and decided to accept the money.
The money was earmarked by Congress more than two years ago for the study and planning of ways to improve the movement of freight to New York City from New Jersey. One proposed solution is a rail tunnel under the harbor between Jersey City and Brooklyn, which could cost as much as $7 billion.
The commissioners of the Port Authority are scheduled to vote tomorrow to sponsor the project and spend the money to study the costs and potential effects on the environment and economy.
“It makes sense for us to look at the feasibility of the tunnel and its impacts on quality of life and other issues, and at the same time, take advantage of some significant federal funds that are available,” said Stephen Sigmund, a spokesman for the authority.
The city’s Economic Development Corporation conducted a preliminary study on the feasibility of a cross-harbor tunnel a few years ago. But after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/michael_r_bloomberg/index.html?inline=nyt-per) withdrew his support for the idea in 2005, city officials abandoned it.
In 2005, Representative Jerrold L. Nadler, a Democrat from Manhattan who has been the tunnel’s most prominent champion, helped secure $100 million from Congress for the authority to take over the project. The agency expects to spend about $10 million of the federal money on the study itself.
“We want the Port Authority to take a hard look at it again, and we’re confident they will come to the same conclusion,” said Robert M. Gottheim, district director for Mr. Nadler.
Brad Lander, director of the Pratt Center for Community Development in Brooklyn, a proponent of the freight tunnel, said the authority’s move would be “a very important step forward.”
He added that “It doesn’t guarantee that it’s getting built.” But, he said, “These are critical steps that you wouldn’t take unless you were really serious about building it.”

October 17th, 2007, 05:48 PM
There are higher priorities for these big infastructure projects, but long term the Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel will have a huge benefit. They need to get more of the massive amounts of cargo off the highways and onto rail cars, it's hard to believe but the closest freight rail crossing from points West of the City to NYC, Long Island, Connecticut, Westchester etc. is up near Albany.

November 14th, 2008, 09:57 AM
Date: November 13, 2008
Press Release Number: 131-2008

Port Authority to Resume Environmental Impact Statement To Address Regional Freight Challenges

With freight movements around the New York-New Jersey region expected to rise by 70 percent in the next 20 years, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey convened a meeting today with key government and transportation leaders to develop solutions to the issue of how to continue to move billions of dollars in freight - including food, furniture, clothing and other household items - throughout an already congested bistate region.

At the meeting, Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward discussed long- and short-term strategies to address the freight movement issue in the region where 95 percent of goods are now moved by truck, resulting in severe congestion on bridges and highways, and in air quality issues for those who live and work in the region. The meeting included New York State Transportation Commissioner Astrid Glynn, New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, and Congressman Jerrold Nadler.

As part of a long-term initiative, Mr. Ward announced that the Port Authority will begin an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Cross Harbor Freight Movement Project, which was initially identified as a major regional issue 15 years ago. Mr. Ward outlined three goals of the EIS, which will be completed by the end of 2010: to increase the region's economic competitiveness, decrease traffic congestion, and reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

As one of the first steps toward addressing the current challenges with cross harbor freight movement, the Port Authority announced the acquisition and planned rehabilitation of the Jersey City, N.J.-based New York New Jersey Rail Corporation, which operates a rail float barge facility that transports cargo-filled rail cars between the two states. As part of the purchase, the agency assumed the existing lease for approximately 27 acres of land at Greenville Yard in Jersey City in connection with the rail float barge operation. The total acquisition cost is estimated at $16 million.

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 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 over 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.

In June 2007, the Port Authority and the City of New York took another important step in improving bistate freight movement when the $75 million Staten Island Rail Link was completed. Last week, the city and the Port Authority announced that 45,000 containers were moved by rail during the first year of operation, removing nearly 100,000 trucks from local bridges and highways. The Port Authority also is expanding rail capacity at its port terminals in New Jersey, which have handled nearly 3 million cargo containers and removed more than 5 million trucks from the road since 1991.

"Our efforts to move freight by barge and rail in this extremely congested urban region is just common sense," Mr. Ward said. "It removes trucks from the bridges, tunnels and highways, and allows for a more efficient flow of goods between the two states. This is the type of unique opportunity we must continue to explore to address the region's freight movement challenges."

The rail freight barge facility acquisition was made possible by $100 million in existing federal funding (obtained through Congressman Jerrold Nadler in 2005) to complete the EIS, acquire key freight assets and perform necessary infrastructure improvements in the existing rail network.

A Draft Environmental Impact Statement, conducted by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, was released in 2005, when work on the project was suspended. The Draft EIS recommended a cross-harbor rail freight tunnel between Brooklyn and Jersey City, linking the region east of the Hudson River to the national rail network, as the preferred alternative to address the cross harbor freight movement challenge.

A process of transferring the sponsorship of the EIS to the Port Authority was finalized in August 2008. The Port Authority is now responsible for conducting the necessary supplemental EIS and moving the process forward. The current plan is to complete the EIS by late 2010, in time for the reauthorization of the next major federal transportation bill.

"Freight movement is a critical issue and one that's taken a back seat to other, more high-profile projects for too long," Mr. Ward said. "I'd like to thank Congressman Nadler for his perseverance in keeping this issue on the front burner to make sure we can continue to facilitate the efficient movement of goods throughout the region."

"I am thrilled that this essential project is moving forward," Rep. Jerrold Nadler said. "This is not simply an important transportation proposal but would be a huge boon to our region's economy, to our workforce, to our environment, and to our connection to the rest of the world. I want to thank the Port Authority, the City of New York, and the many advocates on environmental and transportation issues for all of their work on behalf of this initiative. I believe that, with the impressive partnership assembled today, we are indeed moving closer to realizing the crucial goal of constructing a Cross Harbor Rail Freight Tunnel."

This would be another worthy infrastructure investment to be part of an economic stimulus plan.