Tunnel aversion

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The Ridge isn’t on board with the Port Authority’s tunnel vision.

Bay Ridge’s community board will not support any of the authority’s proposals to improve cross harbor shipping, because all the plans would burdens on the neighborhood, but the Port Authority can’t say how great those burdens could be.

“Looking at the different alternatives, it does seem like we’re going to be the hub,” said Community Board 10 transportation committee chairwoman Jaynemarie Capetanakis at a March 16 meeting. “It’s something that could potentially change the fabric of the community, so until we have more specific information, we cannot endorse anything at this time.”

The authority has floated 10 different plans to bring more cargo directly across the harbor from New Jersey into Brooklyn, by rail or boat. But every proposal makes use of the 65th Street Rail Yards, and could bring anywhere between a dozen and several hundred trucks to the area on a daily basis.

Port Authority representatives haven’t been able to answer residents’ questions about where the trucks would be going, how much noise trains would make, or how far their vibrations will travel.

A cross-harbor rail tunnel could be the most disruptive infrastructure project in Bay Ridge since Bob Moses plowed under 800 homes and businesses to build a ramp for the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, board members said.

“This is probably the biggest thing this community has ever faced,” said CB10 chairman Brian Kieran.

The board filed a formal response to the Port Authority’s plans on March 19 — endorsing no proposal but singling out five it would like the authority to investigate further in subsequent impact studies — two options for floating cargo across the harbor, two tunnel options, and doing nothing at all.

But the committee is leaning toward the cheapest alternatives that would bring the fewest number of trucks to Bay Ridge.

“Looking over the five float choices, two stood out for us — rail car float and truck float — which present the lowest tech and the lowest cost and make the best use of the systems available,” Capetanakis said.

Residents are split on whether the they support the Port Authority’s push to bolster cross-harbor shipping, but many consider it a fait accompli that the Authority will enact some plan. But not longtime board member Allen Bortnick — architect of the “Bortnick Plan” to enhance pedestrian safety at the intersection of 86th Street and Fourth Avenue — who suggested the Port Authority 86 the tunnel plan and instead entice truckers to use existing crossings by lowering tolls overnight.

Other board members said that plan would create problems of its own, including necessitating a staging area where trucks could wait out the higher-toll peak hours.

A Port Authority spokesman said the authority is not considering new plans.

The bi-state agency stopped collecting public comment on its plans on March 20, and it plans to use the responses it received to pare down its list of proposals before a deeper environmental-impact review of the remainder this summer, according to a Port Authority spokesman.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

railfan says:
"...until we have more specific information, we cannot endorse anything at this time.” Since this is the Tier I DEIS, CB10 will have another opportunity to comment during the Tier II analysis. But I don't understand why it would not testify to which of the 10 alternatives is most palatable, thereby shaping what is studied at the next step in the process.
March 23, 2015, 8:52 am
Industrial Maritime Bussiness from Brooklyn says:
We too do not want the tunnel unless and until it is clear that the tracks will connect "all of the South Brooklyn Waterfront" property, not just those where the land is publicly/government owned/controlled.

Otherwise, the tunnel will only make New Jersey more competitive against New York driving Brooklyn's Working Waterfront to extinction and creating the displacement of low income blue collar workers rampant.

Tunnel helps no one in New York except the Port Authority who will toll all the freight and then decide what to do with all the cash.
March 23, 2015, 11:34 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
I would have to say that this "Railfan" character (if that IS his real name) could be on to something here. Only time will tell, unfortunately, as it may be just a little too late.
A man walks into a store and sees a donut he likes, and then comes back the next day to buy it, only to find that it has been sold some time beforehand.
Life is full of these situations, let us just pray that the powers that be come up with something palatable, as our "Railfan" the writer so nicely discribed it.
John Wasserman
March 23, 2015, 11:40 am
TOM MURPHY from Sunset Park Lower says:
I'm confused. Did the committee choose option #11--Do Nothing, or opt for either of two enhanced cross-harbor barge proposals?
One given in all this is that future truck traffic in Brooklyn and everywhere in the metropolitan area will increase by 50% in the coming decades, due to growing resident population, commercial growth, affluence, and a near total absence of freight delivery by rail. What is questionable is how we deal with it as it continues to build. The cross-harbor proposals are simply attempts at mitigating this traffic congestion inevitability. It won't make it go away, just divert it somewhat.
Like other big American cities, NYC has a system of ring-roads to carry current truck traffic around the central core, Manhattan. To the west there is I-95(NJ-GWB-Cross Bronx Expressway) and to the east there is I-278(Goethals-SIA-VNB-Gowanus-BQE-RFK Bridge-Bronx segment). The Gowanus and the Cross Bronx are two of the top ten most congested roadways in America year-after-year. The Gowanus is still undergoing a major re-hab and up-grade from six to seven travel lanes. The Cross-Bronx which carries the most traffic is seriously behind in a major re-hab, as is the segment of the BQE under Brooklyn Heights. Both projects must wait for the new TZB to be financed and built.
I would think an enhanced barge operation would bring more truck traffic to local roads. Some of the freight is destined for local delivery. Rail cars with freight for eastern Brooklyn, Queens, LI or New England would proceed intact to the closer rail yards("the last mile").
Would you deny local access to our local businesses in the most orderly and cost effective manner?
A tunnel from NJ would not break ground until it is 8,000' in from the shore line(10th Ave. & 61st Street) where there is no rail yard. the mile long train would proceed further east to an existing site--East New York or Maspeth, Queens) or to eastern LI or the Toll Gate Bridge to the mainland(Bronx) east of the Hudson. The original goal is to cross the Hudson River in a timely and cost efficient manner.
Rail cars with local deliveries, and only local deliveries, would be back-tracked to the Sunset Park waterfront.
Of course, you must remember we are lucky in that this is only the first tunnel to be built. If the PANY&NJ had gone ahead eighty years ago and put in a tunnel, and maybe a passenger rail tunnel to Staten Island, we'd be replacing them both due to the deep-draft PANAMAX megaships.
March 23, 2015, 1:17 pm
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
a subway line going to Staten Island will be eventually needed
March 23, 2015, 5:20 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I hate to break it to some of you that want this tunnel, but it won't put an end to commercial traffic. The products that are being delivered will still need to be transported from those freight trains, and I doubt that all of them that need it will be right there. Also, much of the other projects of the PANYNJ are pretty expensive with some of them being boondoggles and the WTC site along with the renovation of the PABT are just to name a few. As for the ARC Tunnel, it was stopped mainly because of the costs, not because of the opposition. On a side note, the reason why Staten Island never got the subway, which proposed originally in the 1920's, was also due to costs not to mention if it should be above or below The Narrows, and this does predate the VNB.
March 24, 2015, 3:37 pm
jeff bezos from bay ridge says:
Trucks? DRONES! Look at all that empty airspace above us! We need less trucks on our roads.
March 28, 2015, 3:08 pm

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