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ELIZABETH, NJ-The Port Authority recently completed two major components of the Port of New York and New Jersey’s $600 million ExpressRail project, which will allow 1.3 million cargo containers to be shipped by rail, and take close to three million trucks off state and local roads.

The agency finished construction of a second lead track to the ExpressRail Elizabeth facility so that trains can arrive and depart simultaneously. In addition, construction was completed on a rail support facility along Corbin Street that will handle four 10,000-foot trains daily.

These projects are the culmination of a multiyear effort to promote the use of rail for cargo transport. In anticipation of the new lines, Norfolk Southern has already developed a new direct service to Harrisburg, PA and CSX will begin a new direct service to Buffalo at the end of this month.

Port Authority chairman Anthony R. Coscia tells GlobeSt.com, “Completing these two major components of ExpressRail, 18 months ahead of schedule, will ensure our port’s future competitiveness and help us remove millions of truck trips annually from our local roads. This is a win-win for the economy and the environment.”

During 2008, the Port of New York and New Jersey set a new record for its on-dock rail system, transporting 377,827 containers for the year, a nearly 6% increase over 2007. This year, the economic recession has resulted in a 16% decline in cargo volumes flowing through the port and a corresponding 21% drop in rail business.

In other Port Authority news, the organization was recently awarded a $48.3-million federal stimulus grant for projects that will enhance security on its PATH rail system.This figure works out to three-quarters of the $72.2 million in federal transit security stimulus grant money available nationally for capital projects.

“I’m pleased that the Port Authority was awarded this American Recovery Reinvestment Act funding because it will mean a safer PATH system for tens of thousands of daily commuters in our state,” New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine said in a statement.

Port Authority executive director Chris Ward added that both the New York and New Jersey Congressional delegations “worked tirelessly to secure federal dollars to help upgrade this critical mass transit system.” Since 9/11, the Port Authority has spent more than $4 billion on capital and operating security at its transportation facilities in New York and New Jersey.

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