The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will begin work on an environmental impact statement for the agency's Cross-Harbor Freight Movement project, whose proponents hope will eventually result in construction of a rail freight tunnel linking New Jersey and Brooklyn.
Chris Ward, the port authority's executive director, said the EIS is part of an effort to improve the region's economic competitiveness, decrease traffic congestion and reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
In one of the first steps toward improving cross-harbor freight movement, the port authority has acquired New York New Jersey Rail LLC, which operates a rail carfloat service between New Jersey and Brooklyn. As part of the $16-million purchase, the port authority assumed the existing lease on approximately 27 acres at Greenville Yard in Jersey City.
The acquisition was made possible by $100 million in federal funding that Rep. Jerrrold Nadler, D-N.Y., secured in 2005 to complete the EIS, acquire key freight assets and improve the existing rail network.
The New York City Economic Development Corp. released a draft EIS in 2005, when work on the project was suspended. The draft EIS recommended a cross-harbor rail freight tunnel.
Sponsorship of the EIS was transferred in August to the port authority, which hopes to complete it by late 2010, in time for reauthorization of the next major federal transportation bill.
"Freight movement is a critical issue and one that's taken a backseat to other, more high-profile projects for too long," 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," 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."