JERSEY CITY -- The Port Authority Board of Commissioners on Tuesday authorized the agency to move ahead with the purchase and redevelopment of Greenville Yards, a century-old rail yard in Jersey City, N.J. that they say will remove up to 360,000 trash trucks annually from trans-Hudson crossings and New Jersey highways by moving New York City’s sealed containerized solid waste and other commodities by barge and rail when appropriate facilities are completed by 2013.
Greenville Yards today forms the western terminus for New York New Jersey Rail LLC, which is owned by the Port Authority and operates the last cross-harbor car float system on the Hudson River. Under this system, freight is loaded on rail cars and the cars are moved by barge from Greenville to Brooklyn, N.Y., where they are either delivered to local customers or handed over to another railroad to reach their destination.
The board authorized $118.1 million for the overall project, part of which will go toward the purchase of approximately 47 acres of upland property and 72 acres of riparian rights at Greenville, and part of which will go toward the existing rail car float system operating between Greenville Yards and sites at 51st and 65th streets in Brooklyn, N.Y. Funding for this authorization will come from federal and state grants, and Port Authority funds.
A new barge-to-rail facility, to be built at Greenville Yards, will allow for municipal solid waste and other commodities to be barged from New York to New Jersey in watertight sealed containers and taken out of New Jersey by rail. Currently, the majority of New York City’s waste is trucked through the Port Authority’s Hudson River crossings in unsealed, open-topped trucks with fabric coverings and continues out of state using New Jersey’s roads, causing negative environmental consequences, worsening traffic congestion, and overburdening the region’s bridge and highway infrastructure.
Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, “Our bridges and tunnels are overburdened with truck traffic, and today’s action provides an environmentally sound alternative. It will provide a host of important benefits – reduced congestion for those who use our crossings, a better quality of life for the people of our region, and lower bridge and tunnel maintenance costs for the Port Authority.”
New York City plans to ship an estimated 120,000 to 180,000 containers of solid waste per year through two barge-to-rail transfer points on the western side of the Port of New York and New Jersey. If Greenville is used for this purpose, it would handle about half of the container stream, with the balance going to the other selected facility. In order to meet this demand, the Port Authority will make improvements to decades-old tracks and infrastructure, as well as construct a modern barge-to-rail transfer facility.
The purchase of Greenville Yards and the rehabilitation of track and infrastructure there also provides the Port Authority with major benefits, including reduced costs to maintain its bridges from the wear and tear caused by daily truck traffic. Each year, the Port Authority spends more than $30 million maintaining the deck of the George Washington Bridge upper roadway, due primarily to truck traffic. In addition, the reduction of up to 360,000 trash truck trips a year will significantly reduce the levels of harmful emissions currently generated by truck shipments.
The barge-to-rail facility to be built at Greenville Yards will connect two railroads - CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway. Since freight trains are not allowed in Amtrak’s North River Tunnels, and the Poughkeepsie Bridge was closed in 1974, the cross harbor car float system is the only Hudson River rail freight crossing within 140 miles of New York City.