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June 21, 2001

Report calls for switching I-95 boxes to a water route
A report published recently by the Greater Bridgeport Regional Planning Agency suggests the viability of a "waterborne trucking service" to relieve congestion along the major stretch of I-95 in Fairfield County, Connecticut

The idea, being called W-95 (W for water), involves lessening trailer truck traffic and, in particular, the removal of that portion of the trucks hauling containers to and from the Port of New York/New Jersey. Currently, approximately 30,000 sea containers traverse the county annually and the annual rate of increase is projected to be on the order of 5%.

The report is the result of work by Management & Transportation Associates, Inc. (MTA) of Connecticut and New York. It shows that the benefits of "W-95" would include not only less trailer truck traffic, but also less truck engine exhaust emissions, improved road safety and less road maintenance.

MTA believes W-95 could be implemented largely by the private sector and it is understood that at least one major regional trucking concern is very seriously interested in the concept.

MTA is also studying a means to utilize waterborne services in a similar way to remove domestic trailer trucks along the Northeast Corridor. There are even more domestic trailer trucks, particularly 53-footers, crossing Fairfield County than those hauling sea containers identified by the steamship lines’ names on them.

The intermediate transit/loading method that is most cost effective, according to MTA, involves using towboats and barges. They are slower and smaller but are considerably less costly than ships. The process also involves boarding ramps that permit sea container boxes on their wheeled trailer chassis to be driven on or off the barges. This method of loading/unloading is favored over lifting the boxes off their chassis using more costly giant cranes, barging the containers to the next port, and lifting them onto a different set of chassis to permit their land mobility. Despite the fact that boxes without chassis can be stacked several high and boxes on chassis cannot, the economic difference in a faster turnaround of the latter is just enough to make the roll-on/roll-off method financially attractive to certain sectors of the trucking industry.

The route from the Port of New York/New Jersey to Bridgeport by water certainly takes more time, although much of the transit would be accomplished overnight. Increased cargo handling or box transfers (on and off the barges) and certainly more planning and execution are required over simply trucking the containers through the state.

The cost offsets, required for the plan to be attractive to truckers, are expected to come from the savings in moving only the sea containers (trailers) without their overland tractors and drivers. Capital costs for road equipment and maintenance costs also represent further savings areas. Tractors and drivers are, of course, required for local drayage.

The savings potential in air pollution reduction in the initial period between Bridgeport and Port Newark is on the order of 42 tons of oxides of nitrogen, 120 tons of carbon monoxide and 3 tons of hydrocarbons for sea container traffic mitigation during the first year alone. Future savings are directly proportional to the number of tractors removed from the highway, which in the case of sea containers could readily be as many as 73,000 by 2020.

The full report is available from:

Management & Transportation Associates, Inc.
Fred S. Sherman, Managing Partner
One East River Place
525 East 72nd Street, Suite 20H
New York, NY 10021-9607
Tel: 212-737-7757; Fax: 212-737-2520
Email: AnswersYes@aol.com

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