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ELIZABETH, NJ-The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has hired Conti Enterprises of South Plainfield, NJ to build a $20 million ship-to-rail cargo facility at the Elizabeth Port Authority Marine Terminal. The new ExpressRail container handling facility will replace an existing facility that is nearing capacity.

The 70-acre site will be reconfigured with the new complex straddling existing Maher and APM terminals. The latter facilities, occupying some 32 acres, opened in 1991 and are operated on Maher Terminals. When it’s completed in an estimated 14 months (opening is slated for early 2004), the new complex will have a capacity to handle up to one million containers a year. In recent years, the existing complex has been handling a record number of the shipping units, estimated to be in the 200,000 range. The Port Authority’s Newark and Elizabeth facilities combined are said to be the largest-volume container port in the world.

“This investment will ensure that our port has the infrastructure needed to increase market share and to remain the leading destination on the East Coast for international shippers,” according to New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey. Speaking at the announcement of the signing of the deal with Conti and the start of construction of the facility, he added that “the rail facility will also help remove truck traffic from our congested highways. By upgrading our facilities, we will ensure that our port can sustain its high level of cargo activity, which supports more than 229,000 port-related jobs.”

The rail aspect of the project involves eight sets of tracks and will be complemented by a 13-acre double stack rail storage facility which opened last year at Portside Yard in Port Newark-Elizabeth. Norfolk Southern and CSX provide the rail service for the site.

“The new investment is needed to meet the demands of the modern maritime industry,” according to Jack G. Sinagra, chairman of the Port Authority of NY/NJ. “This new facility will help give us a competitive edge and will allow the port to remain an economic force in the region.”

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