In 2007, an estimated 1.1 billion tons of freight were moved by truck through the New York City and Long Island region, including northern and central New Jersey, western and southern Connecticut, and portions of southern New York and eastern Pennsylvania. By 2035, this demand is projected to increase to more than 1.5 billion tons as a result of forecasted growth in employment, personal income, and economic activity, creating unprecedented pressure on the region’s transportation infrastructure.
The region’s ability to serve its markets is increasingly threatened by its heavy reliance on trucking goods over an aging and congested roadway network, while non-highway freight modes, particularly rail and waterborne, remain underdeveloped and underutilized. In addition, the flow of freight in the region is complicated by the historic physical barrier of the Hudson River and New York Harbor, which separates the large consumer markets of New York City, Long Island, and New England (east of the Hudson River) from the nation’s major centers of agricultural and industrial production, and the region’s major freight facilities and distribution centers (west of the Hudson River).
Given the existing system, forecasted increases in freight demand translate directly into increased truck traffic in the freight distribution network. This will result in serious highway congestion, particularly on a number of regionally important and heavily used network connectors including the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge between Brooklyn and Staten Island, and the George Washington Bridge between Manhattan and New Jersey.
The primary purpose of the project is to improve the movement of freight in the region by enhancing freight movement across New York Harbor between the east-of-Hudson and west-of-Hudson sub-regions. The project goals are derived from the project’s purpose and need:
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.
To assure that the full range of issues related to the proposed action is addressed and all significant issues are identified, the project will include an extensive public scoping process that will solicit the public and affected agencies to provide comments on the scope of the environmental review process. A Draft Scoping Document will be prepared that outlines the project purpose and need, the primary and secondary study areas, alternatives that will be studied in Tier I of the EIS, and the methodologies by which environmental impacts will be assessed. Public outreach activities during the public scoping process will include a series of meetings to discuss the Draft Scoping Document and the proposed scope of the EIS. Public scoping meetings will be held in New York and in New Jersey.
“Tiering,” is a staged process, applied to the environmental review of complex projects. A tiered EIS will allow the lead agencies to focus on broad, overall corridor issues, such as mode choice, general alignment, logical termini, and regional effects, within the Tier I EIS.
A comprehensive set of alternatives will be developed and refined during the public scoping process, with input from stakeholders. Each alternative will then be evaluated for its ability to meet the project’s goals. The following alternatives will be considered during the EIS:
Tier I of the Cross Harbor Freight Program concludes with the Record of Decision (ROD). The project timeline expects to have the ROD in August 2011.
The public has an important role in the project, particularly during scoping, in providing input on what issues should be addressed in an EIS and in commenting on the findings in project documents. The public can participate by attending public meetings and by submitting comments.
Comments and feedback can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or at any scheduled public meeting.