December 15, 2004Construction Begins on Project Creating Over 780 Construction Jobs and 330 Permanent Jobs for Staten Island
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Governor George E. Pataki today announced that construction has begun on the reactivation of the eight-mile Staten Island Railroad to provide rail-freight access to Staten Island. The $72 million project is a joint venture of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The project will create more than 780 construction-related jobs and 330 permanent jobs for Staten Island and reduce truck traffic on the island by 100,000 trips a year.
"This is a critical project for the economic and environmental future of Staten Island," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Reactivation of the Staten Island Railroad will help support local businesses with low-cost rail transportation, improve the environment and reduce wear and tear on our roads. In addition, because shipping goods via rail costs about half as much as shipping by truck, it will also save consumers money."
"We've made a commitment to improving and expanding New York's port infrastructure in order to maintain our competitive economy," Governor Pataki said. "Restoring rail service to Staten Island and the Howland Hook Marine Terminal will help boost economic activity for New York City by providing low-cost transportation of goods. The people of Staten Island can also look forward to fewer trucks on the Staten Island Expressway and the Goethals Bridge."
In 1994, New York City, using Federal and City funds, acquired the New York State portions of the Staten Island Railroad from CSX. Reactivation will provide direct rail service to the New York Container Terminal at Howland Hook, the Department of Sanitation's Fresh Kills Transfer Facility, Visy Paper and VanBro Corp., as well as other industrial businesses on the Travis Branch Line, which runs along Staten Island's western shore. Reconstruction of the rail line will add more than $93 million in economic activity to the City's economy. By 2010, the total economic impact of the reactivation on New York City's economy will be more than $200 million.
Congressman Vito Fossella said, "This project will increase economic activity on Staten Island, remove truck traffic from our local roads and create new opportunities for Howland Hook to continue expanding. It will also allow the Port of New York to remain competitive with other facilities and create new incentives to attract businesses and new jobs to Staten Island."
State Senator John Marchi said, "The joint announcement by the Governor and the Mayor is good news for Staten Island and for New York. Reactivation of the Staten Island Railroad resonates on many levels. It will boost our economy and improve our environment. I applaud the city and state for making this happen."
Assemblyman Michael Cusick said, "This is great news for Staten Island. This project will help improve our economy, our environment, and it will help take thousands of trucks off our heavily congested roads. The Staten Island Railroad will not only help bring more money and jobs to the Island but it will also help improve our quality of life."
Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro said, "This step will not only eliminate tons of pollution from tractor trailers, but will also offer the opportunity for distribution centers to locate in service areas that require rail service for their merchandise."
The project will include a number of improvements to the SIRR. The Port Authority is constructing an inter-modal facility in order to provide the New York Container Terminal at Howland Hook with direct rail access. Tracks will be added to allow direct service to Arlington Yard, and a one-mile rail spur will be constructed to connect the railroad to Fresh Kills and Visy Paper. Three wooden trestle rail bridges over creeks will be replaced with more stable concrete structures. The Arthur Kill lift bridge, which connects the SIRR to the Port Authority's Chemical Coastline Connector in New Jersey, will undergo minor structural repairs and repainting. EDC renovated the lift bridge several years ago. The construction is expected to be completed in early 2006.
Port Authority Executive Director Kenneth J. Ringler Jr. said, "The Port Authority has maintained a strong commitment to the New York Container Terminal since it reopened in the mid 1990s, and will invest a total of $350 million in it to help boost economic activity for New York City and the region. The Staten Island Railroad will add critical rail service to the terminal, allowing the facility to grow and reducing its current reliance on trucks for the distribution of cargo."
EDC President Andrew M. Alper said, "The project is just one part of what the City and State are doing to improve Staten Island's industrial waterfront at Howland Hook. In addition to the rail spur to provide rail service directly to the facility, New York Container Terminal is undergoing major expansion projects including the addition of 500 feet of berth, an on-dock-rail facility, and the renovation of a 212,000-square-foot warehouse. These improvements and new capacity will add 200 employees to the terminal's current workforce of 800."
Since it reopened in 1996, the New York Container Terminal, formally known as the Howland Hook Marine Terminal, has become the fastest growing marine terminal in New York Harbor and Staten Island's largest employer. Other terminal improvements include the installation of four new post-panamax cranes as well as other modernization, representing an overall investment of nearly $50 million. With the improvements currently underway or planned, and a dredging project by the Army Corp of Engineers to deepen its channel from 35 to 50 feet to accommodate modern container ships, the terminal has the potential of creating an additional 1,200 jobs over the next 20 years.