PA Mulls Use of Cargo Ferries in Hudson
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Seeking to reduce the region's truck traffic, the Port Authority is exploring the viability of moving cargo from New Jersey's waterfront to New York using high-speed ferries or self-propelled barges. These vessels could transport stacks of bins or container-loaded trucks and trains across the Hudson.
Fueled mostly by booming imports from Asia, container shipping freight is growing exponentially at the region's port, creating the dual needs of increasing warehouse storage facilities and moving goods faster from cramped docks in Newark and Elizabeth. Cargo-container trucks are how most goods are transported, but they add to the region's congestion and air pollution, while their heavy loads can damage roads and bridges.
With estimates that the region's overall freight volume will soar over the next 15 to 20 years anywhere from 25 to 70 percent, officials and experts are looking to trains, aircraft and boats as alternatives to trucks.
The Port Authority will face two challenges: financial constraints and opposition from those who support a current proposal to construct a freight rail tunnel between Jersey City and Brooklyn.
Port-related truck trips represent a fraction of overall congestion. In 2000, the most recent year for figures, more than 24,000 trucks a day used the port, a figure expected to rise to more than 35,000 by 2020.