October 08, 2018
NY-NJ Port handles record traffic and takes it in stride
A year ago, the $2.6 billion Bayonne Bridge lift was completed, raising clearance from 151 to 215 feet. This project allowed the new mega-container ships to access terminal facilities at the Port of New York and New Jersey upstream from the bridge, which had limited the size of ships that could call at four out of five of the port’s terminals.
Previously, 9,800 TEU (20-ft. length equivalent cargo containers) ships were the largest that could pass under the bridge, but now, container ships up to 18,000 TEUs have access. Cargo volumes in NY-NJ set a new record for the first half of the year, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced on July 26, up 6.8 percent over 2017, which itself was the record previously. Between January and June this year, the port handled 3,450,469 TEUs, compared to 3,299,675 during the same period in 2017.
While there were fears the new volume of business would overwhelm terminals, which had seen congestion and long wait times for drivers, the darkest predictions of disruption and delays have not materialized. The port has seen no notable rise in congestion, terminal-gate backups, or chassis access problems in the wake of the opening, say port truckers, shippers, the New York Shipping Association and the Port Authority itself.
Since the bridge elevation, the port has seen a near doubling in the number of ships sized 10,000 TEU or above, and the port’s share of East Coast-loaded cargo, on the decline since 2010, has ticked up. The Port of New York and New Jersey is the busiest on the East Coast. During the first half of the year, the port’s Express Rail, a ship-to-rail system serving New York and New Jersey marine terminals, was also on a record pace, up 15 percent from the previous record in 2017. Cargo transported by rail is expected to grow when a new New Jersey rail facility opens at the end of 20118, eliminating two and a quarter million truck trips from local highways.
Along with the bridge raising, the Port Authority is nearly ready to release a master plan to handle an expected 68 percent rise in cargo traffic by 2045, while New York City officials just released a plan for a $100 million overhaul to the city’s freight distribution systems.