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The Port of New York and New Jersey's cargo volumes set a new record in the first half of 2018, with volume up 6.8 percent over the same period a year ago, when the previous six-month record was set.The port handled 3,450,469 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) between Jan. 1 and June 30, up from 3,229,675 TEUs handled during the same period in 2017, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) officials said in a press release.The increase was fueled by a 7.8 percent increase in loaded import containers, primarily carrying furniture, appliances and beverages. Export loaded containers rose 9.2 percent, further boosting the increase, PANYNJ officials said.The port's record volume has allowed the port to maintain its position as the busiest on the East Coast, port officials said.A primary factor driving the cargo increase is the completion of the $1.6 billion Bayonne Bridge navigational clearance project, which raised the clearance capacity to allow ships carrying as many as 18,000 TEUs to pass underneath it. Previously, the maximum vessel size was 9,800 TEUs. Currently, 9.1 percent of the port’s cargo is carried on vessels that are 13,000 TEUs or larger, PANYNJ officials said.Also during the first half of the year, ExpressRail — the PANYNJ's ship-to-rail system serving New York and New Jersey marine terminals — was on record pace, handling 315,011 lifts — a 15 percent increase from the previous record set in 2017.The PANYNJ anticipates that cargo transported by rail will continue to grow after its newest rail facility — ExpressRail Port Jersey — opens at the end this year. Once that facility opens, it will give the port the capacity to handle 1.5 million container lifts a year, which is anticipated to eliminate 2.25 million annual truck trips from local highways.Three Class Is serve the New York and New Jersey port region: Canadian Pacific, CSX and Norfolk Southern Railway.