Is a Hudson freight rail tunnel the solution to New York’s truck congestion? WNYC reporter Jessica Gould argues that a major cause for New York City’s trucking congestion is the lack of a direct link to the national freight rail network. (Why New York’s Roads are all Trucked Up). As a result, she says, goods that come into the rail yards and ports in New Jersey must cross the Hudson River by truck. Citing the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, over 400 million tons of freight move through the New York metropolitan region each year with at least 90 percent of it moving by truck. With the population increasing and consumers purchasing more and more products online, the demand for truck traffic will only increase, she says.
To alleviate NYC trucking congestion, Gould talks up Rep. Jerry Nadler’s (D-NY) Hudson freight tunnel proposal. Nadler’s been crusading for a freight rail tunnel under the Hudson River crossing since back when Ronald Reagan was president. Nadler says that by connecting the rail network in New Jersey with New York’s existing tracks 2,500 trucks would be removed from the Hudson River crossings each day. The plan calls for a freight tunnel to run from New Jersey to a central trucking hub in a place like Maspeth, Queens. Mayor Bill de Blasio supports this plan and the Port Authority is even looking into it. The tunnel is estimated to cost $11 billion.
We think this is an unwise use of scarce transportation dollars. It will only shift congestion around rather than solving it. Truck freight would still move to Manhattan and the surrounding neighborhoods whether it comes from New Jersey over the Hudson River or from Queens over the East River. And the amount of this traffic will still increase, according to Gould. Besides if freight comes to New Jersey by truck, who would load that freight on a train, send it across the harbor to a central hub and then put it back on another truck? We could think of far better transportation projects than this on which to spend $11 billion.