Governor Kathy Hochul and Congressman Jerry Nadler today announced the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will resume preparation of a Tier 2 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Cross Harbor Freight Movement Program. As part of the review, the EIS will look at how the Cross Harbor Rail Freight project would work in concert with the Interborough Express transit line, which was announced by Governor Hochul as part of her 2022 State of the State.
With the help of Representative Jerrold Nadler, federal funds from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) have been repurposed to immediately resume the preparation of a Tier 2 EIS that will perform the legally required, more detailed analysis of the environmental effects. The EIS will also analyze potential mitigation measures for two preferred alternatives identified in the prior Tier 1 study to reduce the current dependence on trucks to move freight across New York Harbor.
“New York is committed to investing in a robust transit network that connects communities and includes cutting-edge projects for the movement of goods and cargo,” Governor Hochul said. “We are aggressively moving forward with the next phase of development for the Cross Harbor Rail Freight project as we look to reimagine New York’s transportation infrastructure. I want to thank Congressman Nadler for championing a bold infrastructure agenda for New York and I look forward to working with him and our federal partners to bring this agenda to life.”
In 2018, the Port Authority commenced the second phase of an environmental review for the program with the selection of a consultant to conduct the detailed analysis. The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic forced a temporary suspension of the work in 2020. The repurposing of existing FHWA funds now restarts that work to generate a detailed analysis of the environmental effects and potential mitigation measures for the two preferred alternatives identified in 2014 in the prior Tier 1 study to move freight across New York Harbor. The analysis of these two options is required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) before any federal funds can be spent on advancing either of the two options.
The two preferred options being studied include the construction of a cross harbor freight tunnel and the expansion of the Port Authority’s existing railcar float operation. The rail tunnel alternative calls for the construction of a freight tunnel under the New York Harbor that would run approximately four miles from Jersey City to Brooklyn. The railcar float alternative would greatly expand the existing carfloat system, currently operated by New York New Jersey Rail, LLC, a wholly-owned entity of the Port Authority since 2008, and would include new transfer bridges, carfloats, locomotives and tracks.
Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole said, “We need to continue exploring potential solutions to improve mobility and reduce the region’s reliance on trucks to move goods critical to regional economic growth. The resumption of this study will take a close look at alternatives that could help achieve that goal in the future.”
Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said, “With major projected increases in freight movement over the next two decades, delays in goods movement will only worsen unless the shipping and distribution industry has attractive alternatives to shipping by truck. Our goal is to explore these alternatives and identify cost-effective approaches to future freight movement that can reduce the number of trucks on the region’s roads and highways.”
Representative Jerrold Nadler said, “I am thrilled that this critical transportation infrastructure project, which I have supported for 30 years, is moving forward. The Cross-Harbor Rail Freight Tunnel would connect New York’s metropolitan region to the national rail freight grid by diverting trucks from our streets to the underutilized rail network. It will change the way we move freight throughout our region, leading to economic, environmental, health, safety, and cost-saving benefits for millions of people. The Tier 2 Environmental Impact Statement is a crucial step in this process. It will allow us to work out the planning, engineering, and financing options for developing the Cross Harbor Rail Freight Tunnel. We can and should use the Bay Ridge line to move both people and goods, and I am confident that we can advance both the Cross Harbor Rail Freight Tunnel and the Interborough Express together. I want to thank Governor Hochul, who has been a tremendous advocate for this project, and I look forward to working with her and the Port Authority as the project moves forward.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said, “New York City is coming back, and this project would add critical infrastructure that will help our economy continue to grow for decades. We can’t settle for a return to the world before the pandemic – we need projects like this one to set up our city to thrive today and into the future. I applaud Governor Hochul and Congressman Nadler for moving this project forward, and I stand ready to help them get shovels in the ground.”
Director of Regional Infrastructure Projects for Tri-State Transportation Campaign Felicia Park-Rogers said, “We are thrilled that the Tier II EIS for the Cross Harbor Freight Movement Program is moving forward. We thank Governor Hochul and Congressman Nadler for working tirelessly to ensure that this transformative project is planned in tandem with the Interborough Express. Both of these projects will have a huge impact on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, reducing congestion and truck freight traffic on our region’s highways and roads, increasing road and pedestrian safety, and improving and balancing the regional transportation network.”
Vice President of Transportation at Regional Plan Association Tiffany-Ann Taylor said, “Reducing our region’s reliance on trucks will lead to less pollution, congestion and better public health. Continued and creative exploration of goods movement infrastructure is critical to support the freight system in our region. We are pleased the Tier II environmental impact study for the Cross Harbor Freight Movement Program will look at how additional freight service can work with the Interborough Express transit line. Other cities – such as Chicago and London – provide excellent examples of how to successfully co-mingle freight and passenger service along the same routes. Congrats to Congressman Nadler and Governor Hochul for this announcement today.”
The review, which will also explore potential funding sources for the two options, will include extensive outreach to all stakeholders, including elected officials and the public, will provide the Port Authority and other regional agencies with cost and benefits of each alternative to help reduce roadway congestion attributed to goods movement across the New York/New Jersey Harbor.