Environment / Transportation

New alliance launched to boost barge transport

Reducing truck traffic is key objective, officials say

Can the Bronx’s waterways help the borough reduce air pollution and ease traffic on local streets and highways? Advocates say they can, and there’s a plan in place to test that theory.  

A new alliance composed of public agencies, port authorities, and waterfront communities up and down the east coast will work to cut down on the number of trucks that clog city streets and contribute to air pollution, by ensuring that many more barges are put to use to transport freight. 

The New York City Economic Development Corp. (NYCEDC) announced yesterday that the North Atlantic Marine Highway Alliance will soon be launched, and Hunts Point is one community that stands to benefit. The alliance will have the capacity to research the most efficient transport routes so that the eastern seaboard’s waterways are put into use, to take the strain off overburdened highways.

“As a maritime industrial community, Hunts Point has borne more than its share of heavy industry and waste-related uses that in decades past were pushed to the periphery of NYC,” said Maria Torres, president of The Point CDC.  “We are bordered by water on three sides and it is only in recent years that we have begun to see the promise of our waterfront– new shoreline parks, a greenway, and a new marine terminal that is already taking trucks off our streets.  

Torres added that “any additional efforts to replace truck and van miles with barge and boat miles, both to improve our air quality and to create new jobs and economic activity in our neighborhood,” are sorely needed. 

Eddie Bautista, executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, pointed out that “moving freight by water is far more efficient than trucking, and can help reduce emissions and air pollution in vulnerable communities.”

Earlier this year, NYCEDC released Freight NYC, a $100 million plan to use rail freight and marine barging instead of trucks, to move freight in and out of the city. That plan comes largely from a forecast that freight volumes are due to increase nearly 70 percent by 2025.

The Port Authority says that the city now relies on trucks to deliver 85 percent of overall transport goods to and from the port.

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