NYC Looks to Develop “Blue Highway”, Fighting Congestion & Climate Change

New York City is looking to develop its extensive coastline as an alternative transit route for cargo & freight. 

Semi truck on the roadWith one of the most extensive coastlines of any major jurisdiction nationally, New York City officials recently started seeking input from the private sector on how to reactive waterways for safer and greener freight deliveries. Through the Blue Highways initiative, the City is exploring ways to modernize existing marine infrastructure, expanding access to the waterfront, and helping to develop a sustainable model for last-mile deliveries involving marine freight vessels and low- and zero-emission vehicles like cargo bikes and electric vans.

According to the Press Release:

“Reactivating our waterways for the movement of goods can help reduce the City’s reliance on large trucks, cutting down on congestion and emissions,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “With a city coastline stretching longer than Miami, Boston, Los Angeles and San Fransisco combined, there is an exciting opportunity to develop a regional freight network to move our goods more safely and efficiently. We look forward to working with our partners at the EDC and the private sector to better understand how to support businesses interested in marine freight.”

The National League of Cities estimates that “by 2030, emissions from local delivery traffic alone are expected to increase by 32 percent. . . Congestion from delivery traffic is predicted to increase by 21 percent internationally by 2030, adding 11 minutes of commute time per person.” In New York, Maryland, and nationally, transit networks are being overburdened; this trend will only get worse as the proliferation of online retail becomes more dominant.

Is Something Maryland Should Explore?

Maryland has just under 3200 miles of coastline, according to NOAA, which represents just under four percent of coastline nationally. Just like New York, Maryland has access to an extensive waterfront and is facing similar transit pressures. Interstate 495 and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge have become well-known choke points. A Wallet Hub survey from earlier this year ranked Maryland 46th out of 50 states for best-to-worst driving, and Wallet Hub is far from alone. As conversations continue about mass transit funding, the transition to electric vehicles, and smart growth, policymakers at the state and county levels should also start considering ways in which we can use the state’s extensive coastline to take pressure off our existing transportation assets.

Read the press release. 

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