Continuing its initiatives to maintain world-class facilities while improving air quality at the Port of New York and New Jersey, the Port Authority announced that two major components of the Port of New York and New Jersey’s $600 million ExpressRail project have been completed. The projects will allow 1.3 million cargo containers to be shipped by rail, taking approximately three million trucks off state and local roads.
The agency finished construction of a second lead track to the ExpressRail Elizabeth facility that will allow trains to arrive and depart simultaneously. In addition, construction was completed on a rail support facility along Corbin Street that will be able to handle four 10,000-foot trains daily.
These projects are the culmination of a multiyear effort to promote the use of rail to transport cargo. The completion of these two projects will attract new cargos and new services to the port. For example, in anticipation of this rail capacity expansion, Norfolk Southern has developed a new direct service to Harrisburg and CSX will begin a new direct service to Buffalo at the end of this month.
Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, ‘Completing these two major components of ExpressRail, 18 months ahead of schedule, will ensure our port’s future competitiveness and help us remove millions of truck trips annually from our local roads. This is a win-win for the economy and the environment.’
Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward said, ‘In these difficult economic times, we must remain competitive to maintain the jobs and economic activity the port provides. Our multimillion investment in rail infrastructure will help us meet the challenges that lie ahead in keeping our port No. 1 on the East Coast.’
Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Susan Bass Levin said, ‘Adding rail cargo capacity will allow our port to grow while helping the environment. In this densely urban environment, using rail to get hundreds of thousands of trucks off the road is very good news.’
‘We commend the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for recognizing the vital role freight railroads play in making the port a world-class facility,’ said Jeff Heller, Norfolk Southern’s Group Vice President International Intermodal. ‘This investment will produce immediate dividends with the improved fluidity of trains serving ExpressRail and the Port Newark Container Terminal.’
During 2008, the Port of New York and New Jersey set a new record for its on-dock rail system, transporting 377,827 containers for the year, a nearly 6 percent increase over 2007. This year, the economic recession has resulted in a 16 percent decline in cargo volumes flowing through the port and a corresponding 21 percent drop in rail business.