The Port of New York and New Jersey said Monday it will reduce truck trips on the region's crowded roads thanks to the opening of the final rail facility in a planned expansion of its intermodal network.
Trucks account for moving 85 percent of the containers on and off port terminals at the site today, but the new Port Jersey rail facility in Bayonne, N.J., will advance the port's five-year strategic goal to reduce its historical heavy reliance on trucks to transport cargo that arrives at the port via ship.
The system will now handle more than 900,000 rail lifts a year, the equivalent of removing 1.5 million truck trips from local highways, officials said. By expanding rail capacity for cargo destined for outside the region, the port will also reduce congestion and emissions and get goods to their final destination more efficiently and at lower cost, according to port officials.
The facility is part of what is known as the ExpressRail system, and culminates a $600 million Port Authority capital investment program dating back to the 1990s that established direct rail access to on-dock and near-dock intermodal rail services at all of its major marine terminals.
"Given the highly competitive nature of the port business, we need to assure shippers that we have best-in-class infrastructure and service in place to meet growing demand and to allow cargo to be moved in a smooth, efficient, timely and environmentally friendly manner to wherever its final destination may be," Port Authority Chairman Kevin O'Toole said in a release. "With more than 75 percent of the vessels arriving in the Port of New York and New Jersey as their first call, an efficient rail cargo system can deliver cargo to an inland destination before the vessel reaches the next U.S. port, making our port a far more attractive destination for shippers."
The initial phase of the ExpressRail Port Jersey intermodal facility, which began service today, consists of four tracks designed for active loading and unloading of cargo from Global Container Terminals' GCT Bayonne terminal that connect to a lead track to and from the main freight rail network. It also consists of two high-efficiency, all-electric, regenerative powered, widespan, dual cantilevered, rail mounted gantry cranes featuring LED lighting to load and unload containers in the intermodal yard.
By the middle of this year, the facility will be fully built out to 9,600 linear feet of an eight-track working pad, two lead tracks, as well as additional support and train storage track. The intermodal facility will help support the port's cargo growth and have an annual capacity of 250,000 container lifts. It will connect the GCT Bayonne terminal to CSX and Norfolk Southern' s extensive rail network, allowing shippers to efficiently and seamlessly transfer their cargo from ship to rail; and reach key inland markets in the Midwest, New England and elsewhere in a timely manner.
The cost of the GCT Bayonne ExpressRail Port Jersey facility is $149 million, including $56 million for GCT USA to build the work pads. The remainder of the project, including lead tracks and storage track, accounts for the remainder of the investment. The $149 million is recoverable over time through monies collected through the Cargo Facility Charge, a fee assessed on cargo shipped through the Port of New York and New Jersey to cover the costs of critical road, rail, and security infrastructure projects. However, Port Authority capital funds were initially used to build the facility.