U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn) is ramping up the pressure to succeed with his long advocated pet project – a cross harbor freight tunnel.
Nadler has long envisioned linking New Jersey’s freight network in a tunnel beneath New York Harbor to Bay Ridge and linking to an abandoned freight rail line to bring goods to Brooklyn, Queens, Westchester and Southern Connecticut.
Nadler spearheaded a letter Tuesday to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg in an effort to highlight the significance of the Cross Harbor Freight Program (CHFP) to the metropolitan area of Greater New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
“New York City is the only major city in the world that is not directly connected to its national freight rail network. Without a key rail link, the region has a tremendous modal imbalance. The region’s severe highway congestion caused by this imbalance undermines economic prosperity, harms public health, and damages our environment,” wrote Nadler.
Also signing onto the letter were 16 Congressional members from the tri state region of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, more than one billion tons of freight move through the greater New York region each year primarily by truck, with truck congestion adding an estimated $2.5 billion annually to the cost of delivering goods to consumers and businesses.
Nadler has supported the project even before he was elected to Congress in 1992 – and has allocated federal funding to study and advance the project several times since being elected to the House.
This includes most recently in 2016, when Nadler along with U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey received a grant of $10.6 million from the U.S. DOT for the CHFP.
In February 2018, the Port Authority started the second phase of review for the program, a Tier II Environmental Impact Study (EIS) and complementary advanced planning and engineering work. This phase of the review is still going on today.
But under President Biden’s trillion-dollar federal stimulus plan currently being debated in Congress and that includes national infrastructure work, Nadler’s letter again puts the freight tunnel in play.
“The Cross Harbor Freight Program, which I have supported for more than 35 years alongside a large and growing coalition of governmental, business, labor, transportation, and environmental leaders, would finally connect Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, Westchester and Southern Connecticut to the national freight rail grid, profoundly improving the movement of goods throughout our region,” said Nadler.
“By creating a new rail connection across New York Harbor, we would strengthen our transportation infrastructure, reduce congestion and pollution, and create new economic opportunities. CHFP would remove 1,800 trucks from crossing the harbor every day and half a million trucks per year. This massive reduction in truck traffic is vital to the wellbeing of local communities suffering sky-high asthma rates.”