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NYNJ: ExpressRail and Bayonne Bridge Project Completed

Port of New York and New Jersey

By The Maritime Executive 2019-06-20 19:16:54

The Port of New York and New Jersey says it is poised to overtake the Port of Long Beach as nation’s second busiest port due to completion of Bayonne Bridge project and the completion of the ExpressRail Port Jersey facility, operated by GCT Bayonne – the final piece of the Port of New York and New Jersey’s intermodal rail network spanning facilities in Elizabeth, Newark and Staten Island. 

The 88-year-old Bayonne Bridge was the longest steel arch bridge in the world when it first opened in 1931. The Bayonne Bridge project was conceived in December 2010 as a way to preserve the historic structure of the bridge while helping the Port of New York and New Jersey remain competitive. The previous navigational clearance of 151 feet only allowed for ships as large as 9,300 TEUs to pass underneath the Bayonne Bridge. But the new clearance of 215 feet provides enough space for newer, larger cargo ships up to 18,000 TEUs to travel under the bridge and access port terminals in Elizabeth and Newark, NJ and on Staten Island.

Since the bridge’s navigational clearance was achieved, the Port of New York and New Jersey has seen a dramatic increase in the size of vessels calling on the port, with more than 26 percent of all containerized cargo at the port now carried on vessels with the capacity to handle 10,000 or more TEUs, an increase from four percent before the navigational clearance was achieved. During the first four months of 2019, cargo volumes at the port are growing at record levels, 7.5 percent over the previous record highs for that four-month period set in 2018.

The ExpressRail Port Jersey intermodal rail facility consists of eight tracks for active loading and unloading of cargo from GCT Bayonne that connect to two lead tracks to and from the main freight rail network. It also consists of support and train storage track and 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. 

The opening of the network’s ExpressRail Port Jersey intermodal rail facility allows the port to advance its five-year strategic goal to handle more than 900,000 rail lifts a year, the equivalent of 1.5 million fewer truck trips traveling through local roads. The rail facilities were designed to reduce the port’s historical heavy reliance on trucks to transport cargo and expands its geographic cargo reach to inland hubs. Trucks still account for moving 85 percent of all containers on and off port terminals. 

Completion of the rail network culminates two decades and approximately $6 billion dollars of investment in the port to drive cargo growth. In addition to the $1.7 billion Bayonne Bridge project and the $600 million in port rail network investment, the port has also deepened harbor channels to 50 feet, rebuilt wharves and berths, enhanced its internal road network and installed improved security systems and infrastructure. 

The new rail facility, coupled with the completion of the raising of the Bayonne Bridge to accommodate ultra large container vessels, and over $4 billion in other modernization initiatives over the past two decades, has led to unprecedented cargo growth, says the port. Between 2009 and 2018, the number of containers handled at the Port of New York and New Jersey grew from more than 2.6 million to almost 4.1 million each year, an increase of 54 percent. 

The investments have the Port of New York and New Jersey poised to overtake the Port of Long Beach as the nation’s No. 2 busiest port for the first time in at least two decades. From January through April 2019, the Port of New York and New Jersey reported 1,690,214 loaded TEUs compared to the Port of Long Beach’s 1,669,440 loaded TEUs. The Port of New York and New Jersey surpassed Long Beach in volume of both loaded imports (1,203,674 TEUs) and loaded exports (486,540 TEUs).

75 percent of all container carrier services make the Port of NY/NJ their first port of call on the East Coast, and the port says the largest ships have dramatically increased the number of containers unloaded and loaded there rather than at ports further down the coast.