PANYNJ maps road to 2050

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Port of New York and New Jersey recently released its Port Master Plan 2050 (PMP), outlining strategies for the next 30 years. The PMP hopes to establish state-of-the-art facilities, provide a platform for partnerships, and shape the future growth of the region, with a firm focus on sustainability and resiliency.

Record growth in cargo volumes in the United States (US) has pushed Port of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) to the number 2 position for the first time in two decades, just behind Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach. During the first five months of 2019, the port set a new all-time record for cargo during that period, handling 3,041,814 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units).

In terms of containerised cargo volume, PANYNJ is the largest port on the East Coast and third largest in North America, serving a local population of over 27 million people.

PANYNJ has recognised the need for a planned approach to accommodate growing trade and providing opportunities through stakeholder engagement, improvement in commercial value and promoting jobs and environmentally sustainable trade. In July 2019, PANYNJ released its Port Master Plan 2050 (PMP), clinically drawing out the next 30 years, with a specific focus on “initial steps” i.e. 0-5 years.

PANYNJ’s Port Department commissioned the PMP in late 2016 with the objective of identifying opportunities over the next 30 years that would allow the port authority to maximise and diversify land use, unlock freight network capacity, and identify innovative revenue opportunities across its marine facilities.

The long-range PMP was drawn up after an extensive two-and-a-half year review of more than 3,000 acres of port property. It provides strategies for the next 30 years, keeping into account that it is a change-based framework that is neither final nor definitive.

“Our predecessors had the foresight to clearly understand the value of the port to regional jobs and economic activity and made substantial investments that today are paying huge dividends,” said port authority chairman Kevin O’Toole in a statement. “This plan will continue the momentum we have built and drive this port to new heights that two decades ago would have seemed impossible to achieve.”

The PMP is guided by principles of establishing state-of-the-art facilities, providing a platform for partnerships, promoting regional economic generation, and shaping the future growth of the region, with a well-founded focus on sustainability and resiliency guides the comprehensive roadmap.

Planning for the future
The PMP builds on PANYNJ’s earlier planning work in the 1990s. The previous planning led to the deepening of port channels to 50 feet, the raising of the Bayonne Bridge, container terminal expansions, realignment of and capacity enhancements to port roadways and the completion of the port’s $600 million Express Rail network.

“The Port in 2050 will be dramatically different. The number of containers will more than double, ships will be bigger than we can currently imagine, trucks and cars may be driving themselves off the terminal, roads and rail links will be improved, tidal surges will be higher, land area may need to be larger, there will be thousands more jobs, access to information will be immediate and comprehensive – and 2020 will be a distant memory,” stated the PMP.

It divides the work in phase I which includes the first 15 years from 2020, while phase II involves the following 15 years up to 2050.

In phase I, the port authority will look to maximise the early investment in projects like the optimisation of existing infrastructure west of the Kill Van Kull, strategic expansion work at Port Jersey, and exploring marine options along the Brooklyn waterfront. The Port Authority will simultaneously actively plan an ecological and mitigation programme to devise strategies needed for the sustainable expansion of projects through phase II.

Apart from undertaking road and rail projects for upgradation in phase I, on the waterways and marine highway front, the port authority’s port department has made regional barge service one of its strategic initiatives. This initiative hopes to tap into the full potential and excess capacity of the coastal waterways.

Phase II of the PMP anticipates that container terminal capacity will centre around major container hubs on either side of the Kill Van Kull channel – with potential expansion options existing at Port Newark, Brooklyn, and Port Jersey. On the technology front, it predicts the widespread use of new technologies – such as semi-automated guided vehicles (AGVs), data-driven operations, and electric vehicles.

Focus on sustainability
Environment is one the project drivers for the PMP, along with market, technology, stakeholders, capacity, revenue, infrastructure and network. Among its primary objectives, the PMP lists promotion of safe, resilient and environmentally sustainable operations. Over the next 30 years, the port hopes to implement a comprehensive asset inventory and management programme to identify and protect existing and future assets from the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and storm surge.

In phase II, the PMP hopes “operations across facilities will incorporate low-emission equipment and supporting infrastructure in partnership with tenants. State-of-the-art power and communication platforms will be in place, enabling the port authority and its tenants to implement new technologies, such as hybrid fueling and smart lighting, further enhancing the port authority’s leadership in emissions reduction, energy, efficiency, safety, and security.”

Ready for 2050
PANYNJ has set the roadmap for itself to accommodate future growth and development. “This port is committed to maintaining its leadership position among the nation’s ports. This plan lays out a clearly defined roadmap for the future, one that integrates new technology into port operations, provides for more efficient movement of cargo and makes strategic decisions about the future composition of port property,” said port authority executive director Rick Cotton.

“This new master plan provides a vision that we believe will drive future cargo growth and the jobs and economic benefits it provides for the region. It also ensures sustainability and resiliency as key goals and commits the Port to enduring partnerships with our host communities,” added Cotton.

This story was originally published in STAT Trade Times' August 2019 issue

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