Today, Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Peter King (R-NY), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Edolphus Towns (D-NY), Timothy Bishop (D-NY), and Steven Rothman (D-NJ), and Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) sent a letter to United States Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announcing their strong support for federal funding for the Cross Harbor Freight Improvement Project, which will connect freight rail lines between New Jersey and Brooklyn and the East of Hudson River region. The letter specifically supports the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's application for a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery IV (TIGER) Grant of $14.48 million to expand a carfloat operation for rail freight across New York Harbor. Such carfloats are vital for connecting the East of Hudson region to the national rail grid until there is a viable rail freight connection across the Harbor.
"We believe strongly that freight railroads offer the safest, most efficient, and most environmentally friendly means of transporting goods across the nation," wrote the Members. "Railroads are extremely fuel-efficient, do not create traffic congestion or impose wear and tear on the nation's highway infrastructure, and do not contribute significant amounts of air pollution to the detriment of local communities."
Below is the full text of the letter:
April 3, 2012
The Honorable Ray LaHood
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20590
Re: Cross Harbor Freight Improvement Project
Dear Secretary LaHood:
We are writing to you in support of the application submitted by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's (the "Port Authority") for funding from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery IV (TIGER IV) discretionary grant program for the Cross Harbor Freight Improvement Project in New York and New Jersey.
We believe strongly that freight railroads offer the safest, most efficient, and most environmentally friendly means of transporting goods across the nation. Railroads are extremely fuel-efficient, do not create traffic congestion or impose wear and tear on the nation's highway infrastructure, and do not contribute significant amounts of air pollution to the detriment of local communities.
As a result, we strongly support the Port Authority's work to revive, rehabilitate and improve the cross-harbor carfloat operations of its subsidiary New York New Jersey Rail, LLC ("NYNJR"). Rail freight today destined for New York City or the East of Hudson region moves largely via a circuitous route which takes freight cars north up the western side of the Hudson River, across the River on a railroad bridge near Albany, New York, and then back down the eastern side of the Hudson to the Bronx, a detour of nearly 300 miles. This adds time and cost to shipments, which ultimately impacts the price paid for raw materials and finished goods that travel this route. The Port Authority acquired NYNJR and its carfloat operation in 2008, with the stated goal of developing a second rail gateway into New York City and East of Hudson. This second gateway involves receiving freight cars from two Class 1 railroads (CSX and Norfolk Southern) at Greenville Yards in Jersey City, New Jersey, and moving them across New York Harbor to Brooklyn, New York via barge, also known as a carfloat. There, the cars can be either unloaded at a projected new transloading terminal in Brooklyn, delivered to local customers via freight sidings, or passed on to connecting railroads for movement to destinations in New York City, Long Island, or southern New England.
The Port Authority is already doing important work to stabilize the carfloat operation and restore it to a state of good repair, and is now seeking a TIGER IV grant for $14.48 million in support of the total $18.1 Million project. This project will implement further improvements that will help establish the carfloat operation as a true "second rail gateway." Specifically, the grant will support the purchase of three (3) new ultra low emissions locomotives for NYNJR operations, rehabilitation of track and other facilities at the 65th Street Yard in Brooklyn, and the construction of a second large rail barge (carfloat) to increase system capacity and improve reliability. The "second rail gateway" will offer shippers more options and increase competition within the rail freight industry. With appropriate support and funding, it can divert significant amounts of freight away from trucks (the predominant mode of freight transport in the East of Hudson region today), yielding important social and environmental benefits for both New York and New Jersey such as reduced traffic congestion, less wear and tear on area highways, bridges and tunnels, and fewer harmful diesel air emissions.
We strongly support this project, and the Port Authority's application for a $14.48 million TIGER IV grant to complete the necessary funding for the project. We stand ready to work with the Port Authority and NYNJR to make the project a reality, and thank you in advance for your consideration.
Charles E. Schumer
Kirsten E. Gillibrand
Charles B. Rangel
Peter T. King
Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Gary L. Ackerman
Frank Pallone, Jr.
Carolyn B. Maloney