The following is the text of a blog posted by Maritime Administrator Paul "Chip" Jaenichen:
(WASHINGTON) — Like most of our nation’s major urban areas, New York City is experiencing growing pains. The Big Apple’s rising population means surging needs for freight and services, which have made congestion a common reality for the city’s more than 10 million daily commuters.
However, New York has long had a transportation ace in the hole — its geography and access to water. New York City is positioned on a series of islands right in the middle of New York Harbor, one of the world’s largest natural harbors. We at the Maritime Administration (MarAd) have always viewed the harbor as a common-sense solution to the city’s transportation challenges, whether it’s using ferries to transport people or ships and barges to move freight, and that’s why we've been making moves to help New York fully leverage this asset.
Floating containers on barges across the harbor has long been a reliable way to move cargo between New York and New Jersey — without adding to the dense traffic on the region's bridges. That’s why back in April, with MarAd's support, Secretary Foxx formally designated a cross-harbor barge service between Port Newark and Brooklyn as an official American Marine Highway Project.
The M-95 Cross Harbor Marine Highway Project will expand present-day container-on-barge operations and augment this vital waterborne supply chain for the city. Working with the Trans-Hudson Freight Connector Project, which moves freight rail cars between New Jersey and Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island, the M-95 will be a well-needed addition to New York’s distribution and logistics network.
That’s why MarAd is so glad that New York’s leaders are making the right moves to ensure the M-95’s success.
Last Monday, the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, announced that the city is investing more than $115 million in the development of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal and taking out a 39-year-lease on the port. I had the privilege of joining the mayor, City Council members, and members of the New York congressional delegation at his announcement, and I was incredibly pleased to have the opportunity to highlight a number of the benefits that the development will produce for the New York region.
The development of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal and the ongoing expansion of the Red Hook Container Terminal — the end points of the M-95 Cross Harbor Service — will revive a working waterfront and provide new supply chain options for shippers and customers. Through these investments and the designation of the M-95, the city is increasing its capacity for freight and building a more efficient transportation system for the region, all while avoiding the gridlock and emissions that would accompany a capacity increase for landside corridors.
This project is a perfect example of what can be accomplished with creative large-scale infrastructure investments. And, it’s just a sample of what our nation could gain from the Grow America Act, a six-year bill that would increase our national investment in surface transportation by 45 percent.
While we wait for Congress to see that we need stable long-term funding for transportation — as provided in Grow America — MarAd will continue its work to spread the network of America’s Marine Highways and spur the creative investments that can help our nation realize the benefits of marine transportation.