Mayor Bloomberg Officially Reactivates the Staten Island Railroad
Railroad Connects Staten Island to National Rail Grid, Creates More than 330 Permanent Jobs and Reduces Truck Traffic on Island by 100,000 Trips Per Year.
Reactivation Marks Major Milestone in Implementation of City’s Historic Solid Waste Management Plan.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today reactivated the Staten Island Railroad, an eight-mile railway that will connect Staten Island to the national rail freight network. The $75 million project, a joint venture between New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), is a key component of the City’s historic Solid Waste Management Plan. The reactivation created more than 780 construction jobs and will result in 330 new permanent jobs. It will be a tremendous boost to the Staten Island economy by providing much needed direct rail access to the New York Container Terminal at Howland Hook, several of Staten Island’s largest businesses, including Pratt Industries (Visy Paper) and VanBro Corporation, and other industrial businesses on the Travis Branch Line, which runs along Staten Island’s western shore. By connecting to the Staten Island Transfer Station, the Railroad will allow Staten Island’s solid waste to be transported by train rather than truck, a defining feature of the Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP). In total, the project will reduce truck traffic on Staten Island by more than 100,000 trips per year. The total economic impact of the reactivation on New York City’s economy will be more than $200 million per year by 2010. Joining the Mayor at the announcement at the Staten Island Transfer Station were PANYNJ Port Director Richard Larrabee, Deputy Mayor for Administration, Edward Skyler, NYCEDC President Robert C. Lieber, New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner John J. Doherty, Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro, Council Member Michael E. McMahon, Council Member James S. Oddo and CSX Transportation General Counsel Peter Shudtz.
“The reactivation of the Staten Island Railroad creates tremendous economic development opportunities while providing a means to transport Staten Island’s waste by rail instead of truck, a hallmark of our Solid Waste Management Plan,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “In addition to providing a connection from the Staten Island Transfer Station to the national rail grid, the railroad will also serve our largest container terminal as well as several key Staten Island businesses, resulting in 100,000 fewer truck trips on Staten Island each year. By investing in this important infrastructure we have set the stage for tremendous economic growth and have done so in a way that will help the environment and improve the long-term sustainability of New York City.”
In addition to the railroad reactivation, today’s event marked the completion of DSNY’s state-of-the-art, $40-million truck-to-rail solid waste transfer facility – the Staten Island Transfer Station – located on the site of the former Fresh Kills landfill. The transfer station – an integral part of the landmark Solid Waste Management Plan that was overwhelmingly approved last year by the City Council – will process an average of 900 tons per day of Staten Island generated residential and municipal waste. The waste is compacted inside the 79,000 square foot facility into sealed 12-foot-high by 20-foot-long inter-modal shipping containers, which are then loaded onto waiting flatbed rail cars – four containers per car – to be hauled by rail to an Allied Waste landfill in South Carolina.
“With the activation of this rail link, Staten Island is the first borough to achieve the environmentally-sound self sufficiency outlined in our Solid Waste Management Plan,” said Deputy Mayor Edward Skyler. “With the construction of Marine Transfer Stations and commencement of additional contracts to transport residential waste over rail, in the coming years, the entire City will dispose of its waste in just an environmentally-friendly way as Staten Island is today.”
“The reactivation of the railroad will provide a tremendous boost to the Staten Island economy,” said NYCEDC President Lieber. “The New York Container Terminal has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years, and now, with the ability to move freight by rail, it is even better positioned to expand further and serve as an economic driver for Staten Island and the entire City.”
“This project to resurrect a dormant railroad after 17 years has been a perfect partnership between the Port Authority and the City. It provides Staten Island's Howland Hook port terminal with an environmentally friendly way to transport cargo by taking up to 100,000 trucks a year off the region's highways, while giving the City a way to move its containerized municipal solid waste to out-of-state landfills without shipping it by truck,” said U.S. Coast Guard Real Admiral Richard M. Larrabee (ret.), director of Port Commerce for the Port Authority. “The Port Authority has been a strong proponent of rail, and this project is just one component of our overall $530 million portwide investment in on-dock rail infrastructure that will allow us to be good environmental stewards for years to come.”
“Moving Staten Island’s waste by rail, instead of by road, makes this project not only good for Staten Island, but good for our overall environment,” said DSNY Commissioner Doherty. “By sending the borough’s waste to remote disposal sites by rail we will be doing our important job in a much more efficient and environmentally acceptable manner. Less truck traffic on the region’s roads and bridges, less fuel consumption and less wear and tear on our highways are just a few of the many benefits from this new rail connection. As Sanitation Commissioner, I’m very pleased. But as a Staten Islander, I am thrilled.”
Construction on the Staten Island Railroad’s reactivation began in late 2004 after it had been closed since 1991. In March 2007, NYCEDC entered into an agreement with CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern Railway and the Consolidated Rail Corporation to provide rail services to Staten Island. Trains began running on April 2nd, hauling waste from the Staten Island Transfer Station, and it will be used for shipping freight from the New York Container Terminal and other industrial businesses starting in the coming months. Since it reopened in 1996, the New York Container Terminal – formally known as the Howland Hook Container Terminal – has been the fastest growing marine terminal in New York Harbor.
“The opening of this rail line is an important step in the successful realization of New York City’s Solid Waste Management Plan and its goal to make each Borough self sufficient,” said Borough President Molinaro. “In addition to being cost effective, this rail line offers the added benefit of decreasing truck traffic while improving our environment. I am especially proud to have been involved in the creation of this rail line since New York Container Terminal was reopened in 1996. At that time, it quickly became apparent that the old lines to Cranford Junction were simply no longer feasible. Rather than letting this significant obstacle stop us, the City began the long planning process to create a new Chemical Cost Line service. What you see before you today took years of work and planning. This line will now not only service Fresh Kills, it will also improve local economic engines such as VISY Paper and Vanbro Corp. and hopefully other businesses will follow.”
“Today's golden spike announcement is of monumental importance to Staten Islanders on two levels,” said Council Member McMahon. “Firstly, we will move Staten Island's trash by sealed containers over rail and secondly, we are reconnecting our borough to the rest of the continent by railroad for further movement of cargo and eliminating polluting and traffic-causing trucks. This is the first step in implementing the city's Solid Waste Management Plan and a great harbinger of future environmental success.”
“This important project will give Staten Island’s economy a boost and it will help improve our air quality and lessen traffic congestion by reducing the number of trucks on our roads,” said Council Member Oddo. “Howland Hook is a key component in Staten Island’s economic engine and it is important for it to continue to grow and create new jobs and opportunities.”
The Staten Island Railroad reactivation was a joint effort by NYCEDC and the Port Authority, each contributing about half of the $75 million needed for the renovation of the eight mile rail line and modernization of the Arthur Kill Lift Bridge. The lift bridge, the longest moveable lift bridge in the world, connects the railroad to the Chemical Coastline Connector in New Jersey. Separate from the $75 million City-Port Authority investment, the Port Authority provided $56 million for the construction of the bridge viaduct connecting the railroad to the national freight network in New Jersey, and it has invested $26 million in the Express Rail ship-to-rail facility at the New York Container Terminal enabling the terminal to ship cargo to western markets by rail.
“It is an honor to be here celebrating the return of railroad service to Staten Island where we will help improve the quality of daily life, drive growth at the port and create a cleaner environment,” said CSX Transportation Vice President of Federal Regulation and General Counsel of CSX Transportation Peter Shudtz.