Container demand at port authority facilities is projected to increase from 7.2 million TEUs in 2018 to between 12 million and 17 million TEUs by 2050.
After that, “Phase II will see the implementation of the port authority’s long-term vision, with potential new investment,” the port said, including at sites where it has container terminals and intermodal railyards.
Today, 75% to 80% of the port’s container traffic moves through the container terminals in Newark and Elizabeth, N.J., and around 10% moves through the Global Container Terminals facility at Howland Hook, which is located on Staten Island, N.Y. Those terminals are all west of the narrow waterway called the Kill Van Kull. Another 15% or so moves to terminals east of Kill Van Kull — about 10% to the Global Container Terminal in Bayonne and less than 5% to Brooklyn, N.Y.
A conundrum facing the port is the fact that most of the container cargo moving across its docks is headed for distribution facilities in New Jersey, while the majority of people in the New York metropolitan area live in New York City or other areas east of the Hudson River.
The port authority also noted 85% of inbound container activity currently is destined for the local truck market and that one of its goals is to achieve long-term growth that is faster than that in the immediate area around the port, attracting discretionary cargo that could move through competing ports.
It could also require a need to increase intermodal rail capacity.
Last year the port made 646,000 container lifts at its four ExpressRail on-dock or near-dock intermodal terminals, which have a capacity to handle 1.5 million containers. There may be a need over the next 30 years to expand staging tracks and track lengths to support longer unit trains. By 2050 the port authority projects it may be lifting 1.5 million to 2.8 million containers.
Intermodal rail terminals also may “start to accommodate domestic intermodal containers as more international cargo shipments are transloaded into 53-foot domestic trailers in locations at or near the port authority facilities.”
Short-sea shipping or “marine highways” also may increasingly be used to move cargo to and from the port’s terminals.
“Commodities such as beverages, wood, paper, rubber and iron and steel have been identified as ideal candidates for distribution via the marine highway.”
International cargo moving through port authority container terminals is focused on a cluster of warehousing/distribution centers located along the New Jersey Turnpike.
In 2005, a study showed 66% of cargo volume trucked from the port was destined to distribution centers in four New Jersey counties — Hudson, Essex, Union and Middlesex — while a 2017 study found that share had grown to 79%.
The amount of cargo moving directly to destinations east of the Hudson River fell from around 10% in 2005 to less than 5% in 2017.
The plan noted that this means additional truck movements as cargo must move first out of the port to those New Jersey distribution centers and then onward to destinations east of the Hudson River.
The port master plan says while it “may not be able to affect the location of warehousing and distribution center activity, consideration will be given to minimizing truck trips in and around the port and optimizing interstate access in and around the port district.
Options for increasing container terminal capacity at the port include:
• Adding a container berth on the east face of Port Newark South;
• And supporting the existing tenant in Bayonne, Global Container Terminals, while investigating potential for a northern container terminal in the vicinity.
The port authority said automobile traffic at the port is projected to climb from 573,000 vehicle units to between 800,000 and 1.3 million units by 2050.