The Oil Drum: New York City

Helping New Yorkers understand, prepare and adapt to the implications of Peak Oil

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Rail Linkages

In a last minute provision of the recently passed Transportation Bill, the Port Authority of NY & NJ received a $100 million appropriation to build a rail tunnel from Bayonne, NJ to Bayridge, NY (Brooklyn). According to a NY Times article by their transportation columnist Sewell Chan, this was a surprise to the Port Authority which had shelved plans for the tunnel. In response to the $100 million grant, he gets this quote from the authority's executive director, Kenneth J. Ringler Jr. "For us to say that we're committed at this point in time and can commit any funds to it would be premature."

This is an extremely important capital project that will keep over 1 million trucks off the road each year and reduce NY's dependence on gas guzzling trucks which according to Move NY deliver over 90% of the food and goods to NYC since we lack good rail access for freight trains. This is one of the reasons why basic goods cost more in NYC than in other parts of the country. As oil prices continue to increase, New Yorkers will be forced to continue to pay more and more unless we can replace much of that transportation to frieght rail.

I spoke to the Director of Move NY & NJ this evening and she was very excited about the $100 million and pointed me to their fact sheet on the benefits of the tunnel. The environmental assessment estimated that the two lane tunnel would reduce the miles driven by delivery and frieght trucks by 64 million. Let's assume that the average truck gets 8 miles to the gallon (generous in the city!). That means this tunnel could save 8 million gallons of gas every year. And since trucks cause a lot more road damage than passenger cars, this could save roughly $3.7 billion in road repairs.

In the peak oil world, rail transport of food and goods will be highly valued over truck transportation. Basically, this Tunnel will allow more goods to move by rail rather than by truck, and offers a safer, more efficient, sustainable way to move goods into and out of the City. For more information on how to support this endeavor, go the the MoveNY action page.

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