Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bloomie: Cross Harbor Tunnel may be OK

U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler asked Bloomberg yesterday about a cross- harbor freight rail tunnel to Bay Ridge to reduce trucks. Though previously opposed to it, the mayor replied, “I promise you this: You and I and [Deputy Mayor Dan] Doctoroff will have a conversation about it. ... It’s not the world’s worst idea.”

What about freight rail?

Dig it! Bloomy waffles on tunnel

Hey Gloomberg! See the photo. It's of the Hell Gate Bridge. If you lived at Gracie Mansion, you might recognize it. Anyway, it's Long Island's mainland connection to the rest of the country. We already have an underused rail system. Why not work on sending more freight down it before you decide that building a Staten Island-Brooklyn freight tunnel & intermodal truck facility, which will cost us bazillions and bring increased pollution to western Queens, is a good idea?


grvsmth said...

Here's the thing: if a manufacturer in New Jersey wanted to ship something to Long Island by train, they'd have to send it 150 miles upriver to Selkirk, and then another 150 miles downriver to the Hell Gate. So they don't send it by train, they send it by diesel truck, right down the LIE, BQE or Queens, Northern or Astoria Boulevards.

If the tunnel is built, freight traveling between New Jersey and New England could travel through the tunnel and then over the Hell Gate Bridge, or vice versa, taking trucks off the Thruway and the GWB. Some of it would probably be shunted from one train to another at Fresh Pond Yard, providing some good jobs for Queens.

Some neighborhoods would see an increase in truck traffic even under the most optimistic scenarios, but this plan has such benefits for our area as a whole that I think the strategy should be more mitigation and compensation than opposition.

Julie said...

No, grvsmth, here's the thing:

Western Queens already has one of the highest asthma rates in the country. We don't need part of Newtown Creek filled in, we need it cleaned up. We don't need an intermodal truck facility in Maspeth, we already have a large industrial base in Maspeth, which is plagued with a disproportionate number of truck trips per day. We don't need thousands MORE trucks traveling along residential streets here. In favor of less traffic congestion? Well so am I. No more trucks in Western Queens! STOP CROSS HARBOR!!!

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it then make more sense to create another above ground rail link to the hell gate bridge coming from NJ instead of a more expensive tunnel from SI to Bklyn?

Anonymous said...

Most manufacturers ship via air these days. It's quicker. Regressing toward rail is dumb.

grvsmth said...

Julie, I don't want to see a big increase in congestion and pollution in Maspeth either, but the region-wide reductions in congestion and pollution would be too great to do nothing. That's why I think mitigation and compensation are a better idea. Or find another place for the intermodal facility.

Anonymous, where would you build that above-ground link? Nobody's going to let you build another railroad bridge across the Hudson. You could maybe reactivate the Poughkeepsie bridge, but that's still 100 miles out of the way.

Shipping via air may be quicker, but it's a lot more wasteful and polluting.

Anonymous said...

Shipping by rail makes all the sense in the world and we should look into rebuilding these systems which were deliberately allowed to deteriorate (thanks to the all powerful General Motors/gasoline lobby) !

For one thing.... rail freight uses less energy (per pound shipped) and is less polluting (per gallon of diesel fuel consumed) !

The reason that shippers currently use air freight, in most cases, is that there is no other viable alternative !

Anonymous said...

"Nobody's going to let you build another railroad bridge across the Hudson."

But we should allow a tunnel to be built under NYC. OK.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey was already discussing the construction of a new rail tunnel which, I think, was intended for commuter rail traffic (???) !

Perhaps they might also consider building another for rail freight .

I made no mention of a "railroad bridge" ....previous poster !

Anonymous said...

Excellent idea on the bridge. It has only three rail lines in use, and as built for 4, two freight and two passenger.

Lets use the underutilized infrastructure that is here rather than adding to more trucks etc.

grvsmth said...

Anonymous, you said "another above ground rail link to the hell gate bridge coming from NJ" How do you expect to get across the Hudson above ground without a bridge?

Maybe there's some geographical confusion here? The Hell Gate Bridge goes from Queens to the Bronx, but the proposed tunnel goes from NJ to Brooklyn. The problem is not getting across the East River, but across the Hudson.

Any railroad bridge across the Hudson between NYC and Poughkeepsie would have to cross through protected parkland; that's what I mean by "Nobody's going to let you build a bridge." Why build a bridge through parkland when you can tunnel underneath industrial Jersey City?

The proposed Trans Hudson Express tunnel is for commuter rail from NJ to Penn Station. You could potentially dig a freight tunnel alongside it, but then you'd have to dig another tunnel to get the freight from Manhattan to destinations in Queens, LI, the Hudson Valley and New England.

Taxpayer said...

Nadler impudently said that the residents of Maspeth must just start learning new occupations in the transportation industry.

That's not his call. As a matter of fact, his call is limited to the size of his next meal.

As for the Commissar, he finally realized that a 20-40 Billion dollar project has so much skimming and so little oversight.

He's in this now for probably 50-100 Million. Screw Western Queens, anyway.

gary said...

grvsmth has it exactly right.

If you want to get more trucks off the road, you need an effective rail connection to Long Island. Crappy, the current situation is untenable. The Cross-Harbor tunnel is necessary.

Julie, if you are truly concerned about asthma and truck congestion, you should rethink your opposition to this tunnel project.

Lastly, OT, Crappy: Politicker says Gallagher was raided. I thought I'd hear more from your site, which is why i visited today, but haven't seen a post. Thought you'd be all over it.

Queens Crapper said...

Gary, we were the first to break the story. Last night. NY1 got their photos from us.

gary said...

QC, I stand corrected. I should've scrolled further down. You post way more than I do!

mazeartist said...

The proposed rail-truck yard is in proximity to the LIE and BQE, and with enforcement, trucks can be kept away from residential streets. Much of the freight going through the Cross-Harbor tunnel will end up in Long Island and New England yards.

Opponents make it appear as if Maspeth is shouldering all the burden of rail freight, which isn't true. For the greater metropolitan area, the tunnel will reduce truck traffic, asthma.

Be reasonable, not all development is detrimental.

who walk in brooklyn said...

while I feel for Maspeth-- sincerely-- in the larger scheme of things Grvsmith is 100% correct. That doesn't mean there can & should not be more freight traffic across Hell Gate too but rather incresed rail use all across the city & region is essential.

Hopefully there are things that could be done to mitigate current problems in & around Maspeth but... I also don't think this will EVER happen, unfortunately.


Anonymous said...

"...and with enforcement, trucks can be kept away from residential streets."

HA HA HA HA we have no cops and no enforcement of truck routes now. They take shortcuts through small side streets as it is. What will happen when there is an intermodal truck facility built?

"Opponents make it appear as if Maspeth is shouldering all the burden of rail freight, which isn't true. For the greater metropolitan area, the tunnel will reduce truck traffic, asthma."

What exactly are the benefits of the tunnel for Maspeth?

Anonymous said...

"Be reasonable, not all development is detrimental."

This is infrastructure, not structural development.

CvB said...

Staten Island could certainly use a commuter train to Brooklyn. Maybe they could add that on as well?

"We took the ferry to Staten Island and decided to stay forever."


mazeartist said...

Install more speed bumps on local streets to discourage truck traffic.

grvsmth said...

The benefits of the tunnel for Maspeth? Jobs, and reductions in through truck traffic on the LIE and BQE, and probably Grand Avenue too.

It's possible that that won't be enough to offset the increase in truck traffic, which is why I think Maspeth (and Woodside) should be asking for concessions from Bloomberg, Nadler and friends to compensate for it. I can think of a few areas where Woodside would benefit from the support of someone like Nadler, and I'm sure those of you from Maspeth can think of some for your neighborhoods.

Queens Crapper said...

NY Harbor tunnel a drain on worthier transit projects
8/15/2005 1:02:00 AM

by Greg David, Crain's
Last year, a member of the city's congressional delegation was discussing his efforts to secure more federal funds for the many big infrastructure projects on the region's agenda. This congressman admitted that he saw no value in West Side Congressman Jerrold Nadler's dream to build a freight tunnel under New York Harbor.

"I am not going to tell Jerry that," he said. "If I did, Jerry would try to eliminate my projects."

The passage of the recent $286.4 billion highway and transit bill in Congress shows how deeply that attitude has taken hold in Washington. Rather than bringing more aid to New York, such political logrolling threatens the region's most important projects.

Take Mr. Nadler's tunnel, which would put freight arriving at the port in New Jersey onto railroad cars, send it under the harbor to be unloaded in Maspeth, Queens, and then dispatched by truck to Long Island and New England.

The original motivation for Mr. Nadler and one-time supporter Rudy Giuliani was nostalgia: an effort to recreate a Brooklyn based on manufacturing and longshoremen's jobs. Since even Mr. Nadler now realizes those days are long gone, he's turned his scheme into a national security measure. He's promoting the tunnel as a means to keep the economy moving if terrorists disable the George Washington Bridge, over which those goods move now.

The project has survived through his dogged determination and some quirks of timing. At one point, the Bloomberg administration was in a position to pull the plug, but decided to go along, hoping to win Mr. Nadler's support for the West Side stadium. When he wouldn't play ball, the administration withdrew its support. Both the city and Port Authority are now opposed to the plan, which means the project ultimately won't go anywhere. Yet the new highway bill provides $100 million in funds to continue the planning work.

It isn't just Mr. Nadler who has pet projects. Brooklyn congressman and mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner won $15 million in the bill for ferries to connect the Rockaways with Manhattan. Never mind that the three boats required will cost more than that sum and that studies have shown that such a service would require huge subsidies.

Both congressmen can claim they are bringing home the bacon, but in fact they are endangering the city's economic future. These futile projects are taking away money desperately needed to fund the four major mass transit projects that offer the biggest gains for the city--the extension of the No. 7 line to the far West Side, the new rail link between downtown and JFK Airport, the Second Avenue Subway, and East Side access to bring the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal.

Someone has got to set priorities, and they ought to begin by telling Mr. Nadler his tunnel is dead.

Queens Crapper said...

Letters in response to article
Published: August 29, 2005

One person's boondoggle ... The tunnel to nowhere

Thanks to Greg David for telling it like it is in his Aug. 15 column, "NY Harbor tunnel a drain on worthier transit projects." It is truly outrageous that we continue to spend real money on a project that has no merit. Once people realize how much it costs to build and maintain this tunnel, it will become the tunnel to nowhere.

Has Congressman Jerrold Nadler produced an analysis of how much this will cost to build, operate and maintain? When I was chief financial officer of the Port Authority and looked at this in the late 1970s and the 1980s, there was no chance for it to be financially viable.

Barry Weintrob

Queens Crapper said...

From a railfreight marketer:

Will more goods travel to Long Island via railcars if a cross harbor tunnel is constructed? Very, very unlikely. Consumer goods, especially lightweight commodities such as clothes and food items, don't really go rail anymore.

Walmart, for example, does not move a single boxcar anywhere in the Northeast, and extremely likely in the whole country. With most consumer items, you just can't get the weight required to justify a carload in a boxcar.

There is always the hope that canned goods could go by rail, but even most potential shippers have seen their rail sidings removed.

Railroad boxcars are rolling every day, but are carrying everything heavy - bricks, thousand pound rolls (each) of paper or newsprint, 100 pound bags of rice (1500 of them hand stacked per car), but nothing light. There are no shipments at all of things such as diapers, paper towels or toilet paper.

It's all gone the way of 53' trailers and double trailers, down the interstate. And it will stay that way.

Anonymous said...

Reply to "grvsmth"....

That's what the old "High Line" in Manhattan and the Penn RR West Side Rail Yards were for ....the distribution of freight via the old Penn Station rail links !

Maybe it's high time to refurbish the "High Line" around the Chelsea area instead of converting this once commercial neighborhood into a tony overpriced artsy/fartsy enclave !

Also.....the Sunnyside Yards (now being cut in half for residential development) once contained an efficient rail to truck freight distribution system terminal for defunct"Railway Express Agency"(later renamed "REA") !

You really ought to do some serious research before you mouth off in such an ignorant fashion!

grvsmth said...

"You really ought to do some serious research before you mouth off in such an ignorant fashion!"

I could say the same thing about your entire blog, Crapper. If it's not a place for mouthing off in an ignorant fashion, you've got a lot of cleaning up to do!

Queens Crapper said...

The Crapper did not write the comment before yours, grvsmth. Your response to me was therefore uncalled for. I have been nothing but civil in my discourse with you and I even sent you the congestion pricing report and posted your analysis even though I disagree with it.

georgetheatheist said...

Angus, You owe the Crapper an apology.

Anonymous said...

Touche'....."grvsmth" !
Now quickly go attend to that thrust before the wound becomes infected !