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4/11/2003



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Congressmen seek federal funding for Cross Harbor rail tunnel



On April 14, U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D.-N.Y.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D.-N.Y.), and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) plan to hold a press conference to promote federal funding for the Cross Harbor Freight Movement Project.


Because northeastern freight traffic is projected to increase 79 percent and road congestion, 50 percent, by 2020 — and trucks move the majority of goods — New York City Economic Development Corp. (NYCEDC) several years ago proposed construction of a rail tunnel under New York Harbor connecting the Port of New York/New Jersey with the nation's railroad network.


In June 2001, NYCEDC began formulating a two-year, $20-million Environmental Impact Statement financed by a combination of federal and local funds, and administered by Federal Highway and Federal Railroad administrations. NYCEDC expects to complete the EIS next month.


The project needs to obtain federal funding this year so construction can begin, said Nadler in a prepared statement. Funds could come from the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing, or Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement programs, or the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.


The rail tunnel would: hasten freight moves through the region, reducing shippers' transit time; create a more modally balanced transportation system; improve air quality by diverting freight to less-polluting modes; promote economic development; and provide an alternative to Hudson River bridge crossings by truck, according to NYCEDC.


Meanwhile, the region might get some truck-congestion relief by 2005. Port of New York/New Jersey recently agreed to fund a $72.5 million ship-to-rail cargo facility that would provide a rail link between Staten Island's Howland Hook marine terminal and New Jersey's shore.


NYCEDC will improve eight track miles between the city and Fresh Kills, N.Y., and restore a float bridge.


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