Ports are essential to New Jersey’s economy. That was Wednesday’s message Robert Bouchard, director of the Office of Port Infrastructure Development in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration, highlighted during his keynote at the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey’s Transportation Summit at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Woodbridge in Iselin.
Bouchard cited a report that shows the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is the third busiest port in the United States among 300 ports. The theme of the conference centered on the effectiveness of moving finished products into New Jersey as it relates to supporting jobs and bringing finished products to consumers.
“You can move goods from the West Coast to the East Coast in days,” Bouchard said.
A panel of experts explored how New Jersey benefits by having ports.
New Jersey Sen. Joe Cryan, D-20, touted ports as important to the New Jersey economy, calling them the strongest economic engine.
“The investments in the port come back in many different ways,” Cryan said. “My last trip to the port before yesterday was with Gov. Phil Murphy. He understands the global impact of the ports. Our investments create economic expansion.”
Edward Kelly, executive director of the Maritime Association of New York and New Jersey, said the shipping industry supports more than 400,000 jobs. New Jersey imports gasoline, plastic toys and undergarments from foreign nations by ships.
“We have come to realize how important New Jersey is,” Kelly said. “We have globalized the world since 1956. The cell phones that cost more than $1,000 apiece, cost 38 cents apiece to ship from Asia.”
Sam Donelson, chief strategy officer of architectural and engineering firm AECON, moderated a second panel discussion. He said that ports support commerce that totals $65 billion in business income.
Hilary McCarron, manager of policy and planning at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said the Port Authority advanced a $37 billion capital plan to repair bridges, and recently it has rebuilt the Goethals Bridge and raised the Bayonne Bridge.
Now, William Waxman, executive vice president of CBRE Ports and integrated logistics practice leader, said New Jersey is getting more cargo from ships because the Bayonne Bridge was raised. He told stories about mayors who want their towns to have industrial buildings on the stipulation that commercial trucks be barred, but Waxman said that is impossible.