Speaking yesterday at the Municipal Art Society‘s Summit for New York City Christopher Ward, the outgoing executive director of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, called the Brooklyn waterfront one of the last open battlefields in the city, one on which no clear victor has emerged—just like Vietnam! He also offered his own unique solution for winning that battle, plus his thoughts for the future of shipping in the city.
Ward, who leaves his post at the end of the month, said that a cross-harbor freight tunnel is essential to reducing the volume of truck traffic in the city. “The city is bedeviled by intraregional truck trips,” he said, which has caused “an economic and environmental crisis.” He continued: “We must, we must finally realize small-scale rail freight distribution within this city.”
Also essential to the handling of freight traffic in the city, Ward said, is moving the Red Hook shipping facilities south to the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Sunset Park. Ward sees this move as crucial not only because it’s inefficient for transportation purposes—presumably because further from the BQE than the Sunset Park facility—but also because it impedes possible connections to nearby Governor’s Island.
Just across the Buttermilk Channel from Red Hook, Governor’s Island’s south side is the focus of a major development push by the city. But, Ward warned, that won’t be successful without a link to Brooklyn. He said: “You will not be able to get the needed amount of people, whatever the use is, to Governor’s Island as long as you have a container terminal there.” What kind of link he has in mind isn’t clear, possibly a ferry, bridge or landfill connection—but it’s definitely not a trolley.