Rail, barge get new lives, funding under New York's infrastructure plan
Underutilized assets to take center stage as the city looks to cut reliance on trucks.
The $100 million infrastructure development plan announced yesterday by New York City to shift freight traffic from truck to rail and barge will include a phalanx of public-private warehousing and distribution center facilities to meet expected burgeoning delivery demand and to serve as support pathways for goods to move in the event of a major disruption.
The first step occurs on Friday when the city's Economic Development Corp. (EDC) issues a proposal for a private firm to build a DC at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. The facility will be at least 500,000 square feet, city officials said. Next week, the EDC will seek bids to build an air cargo DC on a 4-acre site near JFK Airport.
The other parts of the plan include building a barge terminal to serve the giant Hunts Point Food DC in the Bronx, allowing produce and other food products to reach Hunts Point by water instead of truck. The city would also construct a barge terminal at the south Brooklyn Marine Terminal to connect the borough's consumer base to the new barge network.
In addition, the plan calls for activating currently underutilized rail lines by constructing transload facilities within the track's existing rights-of-way and building passing lanes that would alleviate track congestion. The rail project is the first phase of a multi-step initiative to raise the mode's visibility as a conveyance for the urban supply chain.
Despite a large portfolio of rail and marine assets, the nation's most populous city relies on trucks to move 90 percent of freight. One reason is that an aging rail and water network is not seen as up to the task of supporting an expected increase in volumes over the next 25 years. Local freight volumes are projected to grow by 68 percent by 2045, the city said. The increase, which will be most keenly felt in the "last mile" of deliveries from ports and warehouses to consumers in urban areas, will choke street traffic and impede commerce, officials said. Traffic congestion cost the local economy $862 million in 2017, the city said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the project should create about 5,000 jobs.
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