CONSTRUCTION of a rail tunnel under New York harbour has been recommended by a study into improved freight links around New York City. The study also recommended the revival of car floats to carry wagons across the harbour. Only one barge operation remains, and its market share is tiny. Much of New York’s freight traffic is carried by lorry because of poor rail connections.

Released at the end of May by the New York City Economic Development Corp, the Cross-Harbor Rail Freight Major Investment Study favours a double-track tunnel linking Brooklyn with either Jersey City or Staten Island, costed at $2·3bn. This would divert 8·6 million tonnes of freight a year to rail, eliminate 1 million lorry trips, and save $416m a year in fuel, pollution and infrastructure damage. Increasing the car float operation from two Brooklyn - Jersey City trips to 24 crossings a day, serving Staten Island as well, would divert another 2·2 million tonnes of freight per year, at a cost of $150m.

The study suggests that funding for the two schemes could be raised from both the federal Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement and Congestion Mitigation/Air Quality programmes. Other partners would be the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, the two states and the railway companies. Specific routes are to be investigated during a two-year environmental impact statement study. n