NY/NJ''s Boom Port

NY/NJ''s Boom Port

Copyright 2004, Traffic World, Inc.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will spend nearly $1 billion to improve its maritime and intermodal infrastructure over the next five years - an unprecedented amount for the nation''s third-largest port. That includes $240 million for rail development around the port as well as spending to dredge channels and berths to 50 feet, enabling the port to accommodate 10,000-TEU container ships. The deepening to 45 feet will be completed later this year.

Surging cargo volume last year pushed the total value of cargo handled at the port above $100 billion for the first time. Container traffic increased by more than 8 percent, while the total value of cargo handled jumped 12 percent.

Last year the port authority spent $305 million on port-related projects. Besides channel deepening, they included the redevelopment of 340 acres of container yard and the purchase of new container cranes. Before 2002, port-related capital investments never exceeded $100 million in a single year. "Our port holds more potential now than at any point in recent memory," New Jersey Governor James McGreevey said at an April 7 press conference in Elizabeth, N.J.

McGreevey praised New York Governor George Pataki for his cooperation in using port authority funds to promote investment in the port''s infrastructure, but he dodged a question as to what, if any, trade-offs he had agreed to in terms of port development on the New York side of the harbor. The vast preponderance of the port''s maritime activity is concentrated in New Jersey, although the port authority is also investing in the development and expansion of the Howland Hook Container Terminal in Staten Island.

Port Authority Chairman Anthony Coscia said the channel deepening projects, marine terminal expansion and expanded rail capacity have made the port more competitive. Three new all-water services from Asia to New York/New Jersey were added in 2003, bringing the total all-water services to the Far East/Southeast Asia/Indian Sub-Continent trade lanes to 19. The Asian all-water services account for 1.8 million TEUs handled at the port in 2003.

Container volume totaled 4,067,812 TEUs in 2003, up 8.5 percent from 3,749,014 TEUs in 2002. Loaded container volume totaled 2,818,557 TEUs, a 7.9 percent increase over 2,611,386 TEUs, according to the Port Import-Export Reporting Service, a sister company to Traffic World.

Many of those containers, however, were empties, reflecting the imbalance in U.S. foreign trade. Boxes loaded with export cargo grew much faster than imports, but even at an 11.6 percent clip, exports only amounted 839,404 TEUs, less than half the 1,979,153 TEUs of import cargo. The growth rate for import traffic was 6.4 percent.

Automobile traffic rose 5.9 percent, with imports up 5.3 percent to 582,915 vehicles, while auto exports climbed 14.7 percent but still only totaled 42,883 units.

In terms of tonnage volume, general cargo including containers climbed 8.8 percent to 23.5 million metric tons, while bulk cargo tonnage increased 13.3 percent to 54.9 million tons, despite a 28.1 percent plunge in bulk exports to just under 3 million tons.

The dollar value of general cargo imports totaled $67.2 billion, more than triple the $21 billion in general cargo exports. The disparity was even greater in bulk cargo with imports valued at $11.4 billion compared with just $743 million for exports.

China accounted for 18.6 percent of the port''s activity, up 27.9 percent in 2003. China was the leading partner for both imports and exports, accounting for 16.6 percent of general cargo imports and 23.6 percent of general cargo exports.

For the first time, Asia has become the port''s largest origin and destination for containerized cargo with a 41 percent share of the region''s market.

Italy, Germany, India and Brazil round out the top five trading partners, Brazil''s first appearance in the top five. Trade with Russia grew by 49.8 percent and trade with Turkey grew by 31 percent.

On-dock intermodal rail activity grew by 1.1 percent at the port''s ExpressRail and temporary PNCT rail terminal to 232,867 lifts from 230,243 lifts. But capacity will reach 350,000 lifts by next year when the renovations are completed.

The top three import cargo commodities on a tonnage basis were beverages, vehicles and plastic, the port said. Wood pulp, plastic and machinery were the top three general cargo export commodities.