The city unveiled a plan Monday to invest up to $100 million in freight infrastructure, the opening step in Freight NYC, an initiative envisioned by the de Blasio administration to shift more of the millions of tons of food, products and materials that are carted into the city each year by pollution-belching trucks to trains and ships.
The city’s Economic Development Corporation said it will issue a request for proposal by the end of the year for a private partner to work with the city to build a five-acre barge terminal on city-owned land in Hunts Point. That project could cost between $20 to $30 million to develop and would be used to deliver food items and produce by water to the large constellation of grocery and restaurant distribution businesses in the South Bronx neighborhood. The city has not identified the specific site or sites where the terminal could be constructed.
The city is also seeking to create a 500,000 square foot distribution center in the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park, which is located adjacent to freight rail, and build a 75,000 square foot ground-up air cargo facility near Kennedy Airport. By providing low cost space to rail and air freight businesses, the city is hoping to encourage the use of those transportation modalities rather than trucks. Solicitations for private partners to work with the city on those projects will be issued within the next two weeks, the EDC stated.
Another near-term goal in the report was to create as many as four small freight yards along an existing freight rail line that snakes through Brooklyn into Queens. The yards would provide new offloading points for goods carted by freight trains, potentially reducing the distance that trucks would need to travel to deliver that cargo the last miles to its final destination. Shorter delivery distances not only reduce vehicle miles, but also allow smaller delivery vehicles to be used in place of large, long haul trucks that currently rumble through the city.
It wasn’t immediately clear how much it would cost to build those small rail facilities, although they appear to be modest in scope, requiring the construction of short stretches of track parallel to the existing freight line to allow trains to park and unload without impeding the flow of train traffic along the route.
The steps could take thousands of trucks off the road and create freight-related jobs.