By Forum Staff
New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez and Economic Development Corporation (NYC EDC) President and CEO Andrew Kimball on Wednesday announced that the agencies are seeking creative solutions to move more freight via waterways instead of roadways. Through the Blue Highways initiative, the City will activate the robust network of local waterways for the sustainable movement of goods. The agencies today jointly released a Request for Information and Expressions of Interest (RFEI) to solicit feedback from the private sector on industry challenges and opportunities, including ways to implement and support businesses to engage in waterfront freight operations, and spark new economic development opportunities.
Through the Blue Highways initiative, the City is exploring ways to modernize existing marine infrastructure, expanding access to the waterfront, and helping to develop a sustainable model for last-mile deliveries involving marine freight vessels and low- and zero-emission vehicles like cargo bikes and electric vans.
This RFEI will help inform the City on the feasibility of launching a marine freight pilot program. The City welcomes and encourages responses from a wide range of freight operators and other interested stakeholders, including participation from City-certified MWBE vendors, to:
Identify entities interested in facilitating, operating, or utilizing marine terminals or other waterfront properties for marine freight movement.
Solicit feedback from freight operators on what existing barriers need to be addressed to successfully operate and utilize a marine highway network in New York City.
Solicit feedback from freight operators and stakeholders on the necessary economic and regulatory factors, as well as reasonable infrastructure improvements, needed to optimize the movement of freight by water.
Solicit feedback on sustainable practices to minimize environmental impacts and identify opportunities to support marine freight with sustainable last-mile delivery options (including, but not limited to, low-emission equipment and vessels, waste reduction, and mitigating noise and air pollution).
Identify opportunities for multiple entities to jointly participate in a future marine highway pilot.
Based on the level of responses to this RFEI, the City may choose to make additional capital investments such as modernizing its marine terminals, expanding access to maritime shippers and receivers, and partnering with the private sector on marine highway activations. Recognizing this initiative is a catalyst for economic development, the City will foster workforce development by collaborating with local educational institutions to develop targeted training programs, ensuring that local communities are both benefiting from and part of the marine highway reactivation.
The City intends to seek additional federal funding opportunities to support these initiatives. In 2022, the City secured over $5 million to improve marine freight service and bolster New York City’s marine highway.
“Reactivating our waterways for the movement of goods can help reduce the City’s reliance on large trucks, cutting down on congestion and emissions,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “With a city coastline stretching longer than Miami, Boston, Los Angeles and San Fransisco combined, there is an exciting opportunity to develop a regional freight network to move our goods more safely and efficiently. We look forward to working with our partners at the EDC and the private sector to better understand how to support businesses interested in marine freight.”