Photo Courtesy of the Port of New York and New Jersey
The Port Authority has said that it believes the use of barge services will help reduce the reliance on trucks to transport goods to and from the port.
By Forum Staff
A newly established advisory group will seek to foster the use of barge services to offset the overreliance on trucks and supplement rail cargo to and from the Port of New York and New Jersey, the City Economic Development Corporation and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced on Friday.
The North Atlantic Marine Highway Alliance, which is set to be composed of public agencies, port authorities, marine terminal operators, and service providers, will serve in an advisory capacity on research, analysis, and relationship building to support the realization of a financially viable, regional barge network, according to officials. Additionally, the alliance will provide a forum for stakeholders to work collaboratively to develop and expand regional barge services among two or more North Atlantic ports, ranging from Maryland to Maine.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration will be supporting these efforts to create a regional barge network through its marine highway grant program. In August, EDC was awarded approximately $300,000 through a federal grant, which will be matched by the City and, potentially, by other advisory group members. It will be used to research potential markets and operational elements of the barge system, EDC and Port Authority noted.
“Our goal is to balance the need to efficiently and effectively move freight throughout the region and beyond, while continuing to be good environmental stewards to the communities that surround our port facilities,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said. “This new alliance will help us achieve that goal by seeking to foster more environmentally friendly barge services to transport cargo to and from the port, which will supplement other major initiatives we have in place that address emissions reductions and air quality for those who live and work in the port community.”
In 2017, the Port Authority handled a record 6.7 million cargo containers. Through July 2018, cargo volumes are up 7 percent over the previous record set in 2017. The Port Authority indicated that it has made investments in its rail and road network to accommodate the increased cargo from larger ships but believes the use of barge services will help reduce the current 85 percent reliance on trucks to transport goods to and from the port.
“With cargo volumes continuing on record pace, it’s critical that we explore all options to transport goods on and off the port complex to reduce congestion on our highways and our environmental footprint,” said Port Department Director Molly Campbell.
EDC officials indicated that the alliance will complement FreightNYC, the City’s plan to overhaul the Big Apple’s aging freight-distribution systems through investments to modernize maritime and rail assets and establish new distribution facilities. FreightNYC promises to create nearly 5,000 good-paying jobs and a more sustainable and resilient supply chain network, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in July when he unveiled the initiative.
“Investments in barging and the creation of a northeast barge council will ensure that the shift to barging from trucking is an effective and inclusive process that benefits all New Yorkers,” City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside), chairman of the Committee on Economic Development, said on Friday.