To cut down on truck traffic, New York City is looking to its waterways
City officials are reaching out to the private sector to help shift some commercial goods deliveries away from New York City’s crowded streets and onto its waterways.
A citywide effort to shift the delivery of commercial goods away from polluting trucks to New York City ports made some strides on Wednesday.
The New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) and the Economic Development Corporation (NYC EDC) have launched a call for maritime companies to submit comments on how to support the movement of goods through New York City ports.
The initiative is part of a larger program called “Blue Highways,” launched under former Mayor Bill de Blasio to increase private investment in marine vessels to move goods in and around the city.
Despite being an island city, New York’s waterways carry less than 10 percent of its freight, according to the NYC DOT. But city officials say the underutilization of this huge resource is about to change.
“Revitalizing our waterways for freight movement can help reduce the city’s reliance on large trucks, reducing congestion and emissions,” Ydanis Rodriguez, commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, said in a press release.
Courtney Koenig Worrall, president and CEO of the Waterfront Alliance, said the initiative is “moving in the right direction.”
“This area has not really reached its full vision,” Koenig Worrall told City Limits. “There are a lot of things that can be done with our waterways to help enable options to reduce traffic and congestion and reduce carbon emissions and planned vehicle pollution. So it’s a great opportunity.”
Nearly 90 percent of the city’s freight is transported in and around the city by truck, according to the Department of Transportation. Kendra Himes, president of the New York Trucking Association, supports the city’s waterway program.
“E-commerce has just taken off during the pandemic, and it hasn’t slowed down. So we’re seeing more truck traffic as a result of the demand for same-day and next-day delivery. It’s not sustainable,” Hymes said. “So there has to be partnerships and collaboration between all Methods to ensure we move as efficiently as possible.”
Himes believes moving more freight to the waterways won’t have a direct impact on the trucking industry either. She notes that the biggest shift will be in reducing larger long-distance transport vehicles, which will likely be replaced by waterway shipments.
“But you will still see some small box trucks needed for last-mile delivery once (the product) arrives,” Himes explained.
“So I don’t think we will see a major displacement in terms of jobs, there will still be a need, and hopefully we will see some shifts in making the overall movement of freight in the city much more efficient,” she added.