The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, working with N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, reached agreement with the New York Container Terminal on Staten Island to provide relief from the impact of the year-long toll increases on port truckers that have cost the terminal a significant part of its container business.
The announcement by Gov. Cuomo’s office said the agreement “will keep New York Container Terminal in Howland Hook through 2029, retain 500 jobs and ensure significant investments to enhance the facility’s competitiveness.”
“It’s a new lease on life,” said NYCT President and CEO Jim Devine in an interview with the JOC. “We are extremely pleased that the Governor and the Port Authority followed through with the commitment that was made to work with us to offset the devastating impact of the tolls,” He said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye had come up with the solution, with the strong support of Gov. Cuomo.
Devine said NYCT would freeze the truck tolls over the Goethals Bridge to and from the terminal at the level of $8 per axle in effect before the Sept. 1, 2011, increase . He said he is still in discussion with the Port Authority on the toll levels, but that NYCT will assure truckers that they won’t continue to pay the toll increase to $10 per axle. “They will stay that way until 2029,” he said.
In the period since the Port Authority increased tolls on its bridges and tunnels into New York City on Sept. 1, 2011, NYCT has lost more than half its business, as carriers moved their ship calls to other terminals in New Jersey where truckers do not have to pay the tolls.
As part of the agreement between the Port Authority and NYCT, the Port Authority will make an estimated $35 million investment in capital equipment to enhance the competitiveness of the facility.
The Empire State Development Corporation also will provide funding. In addition, the Port Authority will agree to lower contractually owed payments, based on container volume, which the NYCT processes. NYCT will pass along these combined savings to the truckers who use the Howland Hook facilities.
“This agreement will ensure that Staten Island’s largest private employer will continue to operate at Howland Hook for many years to come,” Gov. Cuomo said in the announcement. “The Port Authority’s significant investments into Howland Hook illustrate our commitment to Staten Island and the region. Providing a friendly, low-cost business environment is critical to keeping New York’s ports open for business.”
The New York Container Terminal is owned by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which said it is confident it will see a significant increase in new commercial customers over the life of the lease.