Representative Nadler Leads Letter to Secretary Buttigieg Highlighting the Importance of the Cross Harbor Freight Program to the Greater New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut Metropolitan Area
Washington, June 22, 2021
Washington, D.C. — Today, Representative Jerrold Nadler, along with a number of Members of the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut Congressional Delegations, sent a letter to United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg highlighting the importance of the Cross Harbor Freight Program (CHFP) to the greater New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut metropolitan area. The letter also invites Secretary Buttigieg to visit CHFP project sites to better understand the importance of the project to our region and the urgent need for continued federal investments.
New York City is the only major city in the world that is not directly connected to its country’s national freight rail network. Without a rail link, more than one billion tons of freight move through the 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. Trucks transport about 90 percent of the region’s freight, while rail handles only 2-3 percent—with most freight arriving by rail at points west of New York and relying on trucks to reach their final destinations. In the next 20 years, freight to, from, and through this region is expected to increase by at least 37 percent – beyond the capacity of our roadways, putting a lid on economic development.
“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 Rep. 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.”
The program would create transformative economic benefits for the region, including 12,500 to 18,000 direct jobs created, 28,000 to 41,000 total jobs created (indirect and induced jobs), $1 billion to $1.5 billion in direct wages, and $1.8 billion to $2.6 billion in total wages.
The project is a past recipient of federal grant funding, including over $10.6 million in federal grant money through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) Grant Program. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is currently conducting a Tier II Environmental Impact Study (EIS) and complementary advanced planning and engineering work.
Representatives Nadler was joined on the letter by Representatives Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Jim Himes (D-CT), Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT), Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), John B. Larson (D-CT), Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (D-NY), Thomas R. Suozzi (D-NY), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Kathleen M. Rice (D-NY), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), and Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY)
A full copy of the letter can be found here and below:
June 22, 2021
The Honorable Pete Buttigieg
Dear Secretary Buttigieg:
We write to thank you for your commitment to improving our nation’s freight railroad systems. Freight rail helps deliver economic growth, supports job creation, provides crucial environmental benefits, and increases our nation’s productivity and competitiveness. We are also grateful that President Biden’s American Jobs Plan recommends a historic $80 billion investment in our nation’s rail networks.
As Members of Congress representing states whose economies are heavily reliant on the efficient movement of goods in the Northeast Corridor, we wish to highlight the critical importance of the Cross Harbor Freight Program (CHFP) to the greater New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut metropolitan area.
CHFP will finally connect the region to the national freight rail grid by removing trucks from our streets and diverting them to the underutilized rail network. It will change the way we move goods throughout our region for the better, with economic, environmental, health, safety, and cost-saving benefits for millions of people.
The New York metropolitan area represents the largest consumer market in the nation, with over 320 million tons of freight transported through our region annually. However, 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 compared to most American metropolitan areas. For instance, trucks move over 90 percent of the region’s freight, compared to a national average of 60 percent. The figure moves closer to 95 percent for goods moving across the New York and New Jersey Harbor. By contrast, rail handles less than 10 percent—with most freight arriving by rail at points west of New York and relying on trucks to reach their final destinations. This figure is substantially below the national average for metropolitan areas.
The region’s severe highway congestion caused by this imbalance undermines economic prosperity, harms public health, and damages our environment. 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. It costs as much to move goods from New Jersey to Manhattan as it does to move them 500 miles or more in some other areas of the United States. In the next 20 years, freight to, from and through this region is expected to increase by at least 37 percent – beyond the capacity of our roadways, putting a lid on economic development and further damaging public health.
In addition to reducing congestion on roads and bridges, CHFP would fundamentally help improve air quality, reduce asthma, and allow better movement of emergency vehicles by removing an estimated 1,800 trucks from harbor crossings per day. It would also create a necessary redundancy in this critical transportation system, thereby fortifying a national security vulnerability.
We are grateful for the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) longtime support for this project and the American Jobs Plan’s commitment to providing guaranteed, dedicated funding for critical large-scale, multimodal projects like CHFP by recommending $44 billion for projects of regional and national significance. As you have stated, the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) discretionary grant program–which supports projects of regional and national significance–is a tremendous opportunity to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure in a way that positions American communities for success in the future. CHFP received one of the first INFRA grants in 2016. This funding has allowed Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) to conduct the Tier II Environmental Impact Study and complementary advanced planning and engineering work. This followed the PANYNJ and FHWA’s completion of a draft Tier I Environmental Impact Statement in November 2014.
We look forward to working with you to further enhance federal support for projects that are too big or complex for states to address on their own by targeting funding and investments more effectively. We would also like to cordially invite you to visit the CHFP project sites to better understand the importance of the project to our region and the urgent need for continued federal investments.
Thank you for your consideration of our requests. We look forward to our continued collaboration as we work to improve our nation’s infrastructure and Build Back Better.