As larger container ships become the norm at the region’s marine terminals, port officials and operators say investments in rail facilities will become increasingly important.
Those investments already are well under way across the region’s port network, said Rick Larrabee, director of port commerce for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. To date, the agency has spent $550 million on its ExpressRail system serving container terminals in both states, with plans to spend more than $100 million more.
Rail volume is growing three times as fast as overall container volume, even though 80 percent of the port’s cargo is still trucked locally, Larrabee said. But larger ships are likely to make fewer port calls in the coming years — and make New York and New Jersey their first stop — meaning rail business is expected to swell.
“The advantage we have is that if that box comes off the ship sooner, it gets put on rail sooner, and it gets to its destination in some cases before the ship even gets to the next port,” Larrabee said. “So that’s a big advantage for us, and I think one reason why our rail business continues to grow as much as it has.”
At Global Terminal, in Jersey City, the Port Authority is building a rail yard just north of the facility that will allow the operator to load about 250,000 containers annually. The yard is scheduled to open in 2014, in line with the terminal’s 70-acre expansion project.
Major rail improvements also are under way at Port Newark Container Terminal. The agency is adding new tracks and building an overpass that will connect the terminal directly to the rail yard. The two are currently separated by Corbin Street, the busy thoroughfare that runs alongside the Newark and Elizabeth port area.
James Pelliccio, president of Port Newark Container Terminal, said the bridge will effectively take 700 trucks a day off Corbin Street, improve security and reduce the port’s environmental impact.
“We’re eliminating that middle move, from a logistics standpoint,” Pelliccio said.
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