Cross Harbor Freight Program

Photo of a Car Float in front of the Statue of Liberty

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) are preparing a NEPA Tier I Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate alternatives to improve the movement of goods in the region by enhancing the transportation of freight across New York Harbor. Given the existing freight movement system, forecasted increases in demand translate directly into increased truck traffic in the freight distribution network. The region's ability to serve its markets is increasingly threatened by its heavy reliance on trucking goods over an ageing and congested roadway network, while non-highway freight modes, particularly rail and waterborne, remain underdeveloped and underutilized.

Project goals will be refined during scoping with input from the public, elected officials, interested agencies and organizations. A comprehensive set of alternatives will be developed and refined during the public scoping process, with input from involved and interested agencies as well as other stakeholders. Each alternative will then be evaluated for its ability to meet the project's goals, which are derived from the project's purpose and need.

  • The Project
  • The Study
  • Alternatives
  • Technical Docs

The Project

The metropolitan tri-state area faces a major freight mobility challenge in keeping up with the demands of goods movement across the Hudson River.

The metropolitan tri-state area's ability to serve its consumer markets is increasingly threatened by its heavy reliance on trucking goods over an aging and congested roadway network, while non-highway freight modes remain underdeveloped and underutilized. In addition, the flow of freight in the region is complicated by the physical barrier of the Hudson River and New York Harbor.

The Cross Harbor Freight Movement Program seeks to improve freight movement across New York Harbor between the east-of-Hudson and west-of-Hudson sub-regions.

Project History

Several previous studies have been conducted to examine possible alternatives to improve freight movement across the Hudson River and New York Harbor including the Cross Harbor Cross Harbor Freight Movement Major Investment Study (MIS) completed in 2000. Following these studies, a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was published in 2004. Now as the project moves forward, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) takes the lead as project sponsor and will undertake an extensive public scoping process and prepare the EIS.

Purpose & Need

With a dependence on trucks and a forecast of increased demand of goods movement, the metropolitan tri-state area is on course for increasingly severe highway congestion and travel delays.

The concentration of port, rail and air freight facilities needed to sustain the region's economic link to the rest of the world has developed largely to the west of the Hudson region. The only direct connection from this freight hub to the heavily populated region east of the Hudson River is by truck over a limited number of congested crossings.

Growing Demand for Goods

Forecasts indicate that the demand for goods in the metropolitan region will grow roughly 40 percent by 2035, therefore increasing truck traffic on these already taxed routes. This will result in increased highway congestion, particularly on a number of regionally important and heavily used network connectors including the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (VNB) between Brooklyn and Staten Island, and the George Washington Bridge (GWB) between Manhattan and New Jersey.

  • The GWB carries an average of approximately 300,000 vehicles per day
  • The VNB carries an average of 195,000 per day

These future increases will require a modally diverse approach that takes advantage of underutilized freight capacity. The rehabilitation of the existing rail freight network would support a shift from truck to the more sustainable modes for goods movement.

Learn more about the Purpose and Need as outlined in the Notice of Intent.

Study Area

The Cross Harbor Freight Program includes 54 counties in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut with a focus on the regional and local freight corridors in the tri-state metropolitan area.


The Cross Harbor Freight Program looks to improve the movement of goods from East of the Hudson River to points West.

Given the area size of the project and the sensitivity to local and regional issues, there are multiple goals to be reached which include:

  • Reduce the contribution of Cross Harbor trucks trips to congestion along the region's major freight corridors relative to no build conditions.
  • Provide Cross-Harbor freight shippers, receivers, and carriers with additional, attractive modal options to existing interstate trucking services.
  • Expand facilities for Cross Harbor goods movement to enhance system resiliency, safety and security, and infrastructure protection.
  • Improve regional and local environmental quality.
  • Support development of integrated freight transportation/land use strategies.

The Study

The EIS process involves the analysis of direct, indirect and cumulative environmental impacts associated with each of the proposed alternatives.

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 and other relevant legislation for projects receiving federal funds. The EIS is a comprehensive, full-disclosure document in which the proposed project impacts on the social, economic and environmental conditions of the study area are assessed and also evaluates the measures needed to alleviate those impacts.

The Cross Harbor Freight Movement Program EIS

The Cross Harbor Freight Movement Program EIS will analyze alternatives that would provide short-term and long-term strategies for:

  • Improving the regional freight network
  • Reducing traffic congestion
  • Enhancing modal diversity and system redundancy
  • Improving air quality
  • Providing economic benefits

The EIS analysis will be conducted using “tiering,” which is a staged process applied to the environmental review of complex projects.

Input from the public and from reviewing agencies will be solicited during both tiers. Check the News section for announcements of public meeting dates.

Tier I

Tier I of the Cross Harbor Freight Movement Program Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) focuses on general transportation modes and alignments for the proposed project, including logical endpoints and regional economic and transportation effects. It will include:

  • a logistics and market demand analysis;
  • a rail and highway operations and multimodal networks analysis;
  • an economic and financial analysis;
  • a capital investment estimation;
  • an operations and maintenance cost estimation for each alternative; a transportation analysis;
  • conceptual design criteria;
  • general environmental impact assessments; and
  • a data needs list for the preparation for Tier II analyses and preliminary design.

Tier I will concentrate on goods movement throughout the greater New York/New Jersey region, including major freight movement corridors leading to the Hudson River, major freight rail lines and facilities west of the Hudson River, strategic rail assets east of the Hudson River which may require improvements and/or capacity enhancement, as well as conditions at area marine terminals and airports.

Tier I of the EIS will result in a Record of Decision (ROD) that will identify the transportation mode or a combination of modes and alignments for the proposed project, with the appropriate level of detail for corridor-level decisions, or select the NEPA “No Action Alternative”. The ROD will also outline measures that are intended to avoid, minimize, or mitigate adverse impacts from the build alternatives.

Tier II

Tier II of the Cross Harbor Freight Movement Program Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will further explore in greater detail those alternatives which fulfill the project purpose within the mode and alignment chosen in Tier I and will include:

  • analysis of refined engineering designs and site-specific environmental impacts
  • development of site-specific mitigation measures
  • cost estimates for the preferred alternative


The Cross Harbor Freight Movement Program Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will examine alternatives that contain short-term and long-term strategies for enhancing the regional freight network, reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality, and generating economic benefits.

Four types of alternatives for the enhancement of cross harbor freight service will be evaluated and documented in the EIS:

  • No Action Alternative
  • TSM Alternative
  • TDM Alternative
  • Build Alternatives

Alternative modes may include float/ferry, rail tunnel and multimodal tunnel. Potential alternatives become viable for further study when they provide an end-to-end solution, capture a variety of potential freight markets, have logical endpoints, and are mindful of local impacts.

No Action Alternative

No Action Alternative will include planned upgrades to existing infrastructure, such as the full acquisition of the Greenville Yard Rail Float Facility, the rehabilitation of New York New Jersey Rail Float Operations and Assets, and committed and programmed improvements to New York City and Long Island rail lines and rail yards.

TSM Alternative

TSM Alternatives maximize utilization and efficiency of existing transportation network with relatively low-cost projects to improve its functional capacity. These alternatives provide additional freight movement capacity beyond the committed projects that are included in the No Action Alternative.

TSM Alternatives could include the repair or upgrade of existing float bridges and scheduling improvements to allow both freight traffic and passenger service to utilize the region's rail lines.

TDM Alternative

The TDM Alternative aims to reduce, redistribute or “better fit” the amount of demand to the available capacity. These alternatives measures include:

  • Truck congestion pricing incentives
  • Passenger vehicle congestion pricing incentives
  • Other fees, regulations, or policies similarly affecting transportation behavior and choices

Build Alternatives

The basic build alternatives may include an expanded railcar float alternative, several versions of a tunnel alternative, and a combination railcar float/tunnel alternative. In addition to evaluating multiple build alternatives, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will consider variations of each build alternative that will analyze locating new or expanded rail yards that may be required for the proposed project.

Float and Ferry Options

  1. Expanded Rail Car Float System
  2. Container Float
  3. Truck Float System
  4. Truck Ferry

Rail Tunnel Options

  1. Single vs. Double Track
  2. Single Stack vs. Double Stack
  3. Conventional Railcar Service vs. Open Technology
  4. Chunnel Shuttle

Multimodal Tunnel

  1. Multi-use Tunnel
  2. Emergency Access for Vehicles
  3. Scheduled Truck Access
  4. Roll-on/Roll-off Vehicle Trains
  5. Automated-Guided-Vehicle Service


We invite you to view documents related to the Cross Harbor Freight Program.

Scoping Comment Summary
A summary of the response to comments from the late fall 2010 public comment period.

Public Information Session Presentation (5.2011)
A presentation from a local information session on Long Island about Cross Harbor Freight Program

Scoping Information Session Presentation (10.2010)
A presentation from the regional scoping information sessions about Cross Harbor Freight Program

Draft Scoping Document (9.2010)
The Draft Scoping Document has been issued to frame the environmental review to solicit public and agency input regarding the project alternatives and environmental issues currently under consideration in the EIS.

Draft EIS Methodology (9.2010)
The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Methodology describes the process and methodology that will be undertaken for the development and evaluation of project alternatives and the preparation of the EIS.

Needs Assessment (9.2010)
To fully understand the existing freight market for the region and forecast its future conditions, a 54-county, multi-state Cross Harbor modeling study area has been established.

Alternatives Workshop: Development and Screening (03.24.10)
A Workshop supplement used during a discussion on the potential alternatives considered for the Cross Harbor Freight Program.

Technical Advisory Committee Modeling Workshop (12.17.09)
A Workshop presentation used to discuss modeling development and application, and to obtain Committee feedback.

Cross Harbor Freight EIS Stakeholder Committee (09.30.09)
A presentation to the Stakeholder Committee on stakeholder and public involvement, and an in-depth explanation of the EIS process.

NJTPA Freight Committee Presentation (02.17.09)
An early overview presentation of the Cross Harbor Freight Program.

All documents are in PDF format. You will need Acrobat Reader to open and view these documents; you can download Acrobat here for free.

US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration Website


Public meetings have been conducted. Community representatives and organizations are welcome to submit meeting requests to the project team.

Past public information sessions:

May 2011

October 2010

Scoping Comment Summary released.

FHWA has published a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register.

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