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The Port of New York Authority-Its Comprehensive Plan Explained

Economies It Would Effect-Comparison of Port Authority's and New York City's Port Plans

York that such an agreement will never be assented to by the Legislature of the State of New Jersey.

The proposal of the city, therefore, must be consideredif it is to be considered as the comprehensive plan required by the Port Compact-as something still to be submitted to New Jersey for approval, even if adopted by New York.

This memorandum does not discuss these questions of legislative policy which were settled by the adoption of the Port Compact and its approval by Congress-but merely discusses the engineering features of the Port Authority and the city plans, on their relative merits as part of any comprehensive plan.



T the very outset it must be made clear that the City's proposal is frankly offered, not as a substitute plan for the Comprehensive Plan to carry out the pledge of the two States under the Compact of April 30, 1921, approved by Congress but in total disregard of the compact entered into by the two States by which they agreed nearly a year ago to develop the port by mutual co-operation and in pursuance of a common plan.

In the documents prepared by the City, as well as in the public utterances of members of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, it is clearly stated that if the City plan is adopted, the Port Authority and the Port Treaty become obsolete and can be wholly disregarded. To justify this poition, the engineers in their report assume that Chapter 700 of the Laws of 1921 (The Staten Island Tunnel Bill), though on its face justifying only a tunnel between the Boroughs of Richmond and Brooklyn, nevertheless constituted a mandatory direction to develop a "COMPREHENSIVE PLAN FOR THE ENTIRE PORT," inconsistent with and not at all in harmony with any plan to be presented by the Port Authority. In other words, the plan of the City, if adopted by the Legislature is in repudiation of the Port Compact with New Jersey and not in execution of it.


Upon this theory, the failure of the City's engineers to confer with the Port Authority's engineers as well as the failure and refusal of the members of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment to confer with the members of the Port Authority can be understood. It is based upon the fundamental purpose

"to get rid of the Port Authority and the Treaty," and to substitute the City as an agency to negotiate with the railroads and the State of New Jersey and all its commercial and industrial units.

At the very outset, in the consideration of the matter, therefore, the Legislature of the State of New York must determine whether it will revoke and annul its action of last year, undo the compact entered into with New Jersey, after four years of negotiation, thus breaking with New Jersey, to "go it alone," using the City as the instrumentality.

Upon this broad question of policy, the Legislature will undoubtedly receive many arguments, the most important of which is conceded by the city engineers, namely:

that a comprehensive development of the Port is imperative for the safety of the commerce of the Port, and that there must be a linking up of the railroads on the New York side of the Port with the railroads on the New Jersey side of the Port. This memorandum deals only with the engineering aspects of the problem and proceds upon the assumption that the Legislature will only consider the city plan as an alternative to be adopted in place of the comprehensive plan proposed by the Port Authority as a part of the agreement with the sister State of New Jersey.

Obviously the city cannot build a bridge across the Arthur Kill, nor a belt line in New Jersey without New Jersey's consent. Even if the Legislature of New York should approve of the proposal of the city, it cannot be effectuated except by new negotiation with the State of New Jersey, the conception that the connecting interstate link shall be


new agreement with that State based essentially upon one which shall be owned by the City of New York. It must be manifest at once to the Legislature of the State of New

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Manhattan-More than 75 per cent of the food stuffs necessary to feed its population and a somewhat greater percentage of materials and supplies necessary to the life of its commerce and industry is dependent upon those railroads whose lines terminate on the New Jersey side of the Port. More than one-half million cars, annually, loaded with Manmattan's commerce are brought to or are moved out of the Port district by the New Jersey railroads. Connecting these railroads with Manhattan is the antiquated car transfer and freight lighter. To accommodate the car transfers necessary to transport this vast volume of traffic between Manhattan and New Jersey, requires the use of thirty-one of the city's piers on the North River and eighteen on the East River. Equipping these water fronts with modern piers needed to accommodate the Port's commerce, present or future, cannot proceed until the railroads shall have been located elsewhere.

Lack of facilities, such as belt line, marginal waterfront lines, union terminal yards, union receiving and delivery stations, warehouses supported by rails-results in congestion at the railheads, delayed distribution, congestion on the streets of New York City, and burdensome costs to everyone concerned, including the cost of living.

2. Individualistic methods of operation of railroad terminal facilities both on land and water:

The absence of modern freight terminal facilities is not the whole of the problem with which we have to deal.

In the New Jersey rate case, the Interstate Commerce Commission said:

"We cannot with propriety overlook the fact that the terminal problem in the Port of New York is due in no small measure to the competition between the railroads."

It is this rivalry, which the Commission condemned, that stands in the way of the railroads co-ordinating such of their facilities as could be co-ordinated if there were the purpose to unite in a common effort to serve the public good. There could be established, at once, joint use and operation of the present terminal facilities; especially is this true as regards railroad carfloat and lighterage service.

The ever-increasing cost of terminal service at this Port does not warrant the continuation of a policy that has as its justification the theory of competition rather than economic co-operation.



1. The railroad terminal facilities at the Port must be wholly and completely co-ordinated.

2. Terminal operations at the Port must be unified. These propositions will be discussed in their relation to the comprehensive plan recommended as it affects New York. 1. The railroad terminal facilities at the Port must be wholly and completely co-ordinated:

In its opinion in the New Jersey rate case referred to in the foregoing, the Interstate Commerce Commission stated: "It is necessary that the great terminals at the Port of New York be made practically one.


Here is stated, succinctly, what is meant by a co-ordination of the terminal facilities at the Port. How is this to be accomplished? By economic utilization of present terminal facilities and by providing such additional facilities as are now or will be required.

(a) Brooklyn, Queens, Richmond, Bronx:

The comprehensive plan of the Port of New York Authority shows graphically how facilities of the railroads terminating on the New Jersey side of the Port "can be made practically one." It has recommended a middle belt line (shown on the plan in brown) that joins together all of the New Jersey railroads, and at the location where economics dictate

the union should be made. One fundamental of railroad location and operation is that a belt line in order to serve a useful function must be located so as to immediately encircle the terminal switching district.

By tunnel under upper New York Bay, this middle line is brought to Brooklyn, and by use of the Long Island Railroad and the New York Connecting Railroad as a part thereof, it will serve all of Brooklyn and Queens and connect with the New York Central and New York, New Haven and Hartford railroads in the Bronx, substantially at the locations and in the manner indicated on the plan. By use of present facilities which will be augmented as needs require, the line is brought to Richmond.

Radiating from the middle belt line in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Richmond are marginal waterfront lines designed to serve the whole of the commerce and industry of those sections as at present developed, and as well all territory capable of being developed. It is axiomatic that these lines, connected as they will be with all railroads through the middle belt line, will foster the development of undeveloped sections.

Attention is directed to Table III, hereto appended:

It will be seen that the movement of 18,500,000 net tons, or 1,340,000 cars of freight (based on traffic movement for year 1914), between the New Jersey railroads and that part of the Port lying easterly of the East River and the Upper Bay cost the estimated sum of approximately $22,000,000 of $16.31 a car; (operating cost figures are for the year 1918).

Table II affords a summary comparison of the cost under present methods and under the plan and methods recommended by the Port Authority. It will be seen the estimates here presented show a saving under the Port Authority's plan of approximately $5.000 a car or $6,700,000 per annum; this, after allowing for all operating expenses, taxes and interest at 5 per cent on an investment estimated at $128,000,000. It will thus be seen that this burden can be lifted from the commerce of the Port.

Table IV is an analysis of the Port Authority's plan as it affects Brooklyn and Queens.

The physical characteristics of the Middle belt line are: Length from northernmost point to a connection with the electric section at Greenville is 11.1 miles. The electric section including the tunnel under New York Bay is six miles. This is a total requirement of 17.1 miles of new line, necessary in order to reach the Long Island Railroad at Bay Ridge. The length of tunnel from portal to portal is 24,280 feet. The first cost of 17.1 miles of line including tunnel under the Bay is estimated at $65,000,000.

This table contains the detail of estimated costs per car that would be incurred in serving the Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens under the Port Authority's plan. The cost per car amounts to $11.34 against the ascertained cost of $16.31 per car under present methods of operation. As has been shown the estimated saving approximates $5.00 per car or $6,700,000 per annum on an assumed traffic movement of 1,340,000 cars.

(b) Manhattan.

The plan which the Port Authority has recommended for relief of Manhattan is shown on the comprehensive plan in blue.

The initial installation would consist of joint yards and transfer stations in New Jersey and an underground line electrically operated and automatically controlled, extending from the yards in New Jersey, under the Hudson River to Manhattan in the vicinity of 47th street, thence southerly inland and underground, to the lower end of the island, thence back to the joint yards. The expanded system recommended would encircle the upper end of Manhattan as far north as 125th street and reach into the Bronx, where it would connect with the New York Central and the New

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Haven railroads. In New Jersey the traffic of all railroads is brought to the joint yards by the belt line shown in blue.

The Port Authority found that this plan suggested by the former Bi-State Commission, with some important modifications, furnishes the best solution of the Manhattan freight problem. The details of the plan are set forth in Chapter XIV of the Report of the New York, New Jersey Port and Harbor Development Commission.

The plan would permit of the freight of all railroads being brought to Manhattan into union terminals.

The economies that would be effected on an assumed tonnage movement of ten-million tons, annually, would approximate $7,000,000. Table V contains details showing how these economies are derived. It will be noted that in the Port Authority's cost provision is made for amortization of the capital investment while the costs of present methods with which the Port Authority's plan is compared include no charge for amortization.

As pointed out in the report of the Port Authority, it would take several years to design, construct, and instal the completed system. In the meantime it is proposed to provide relief by unification of trucking services and the establishment on Manhattan of inland union terminals, serving a consolidated unified floating and trucking operation from the westerly side of the Port.

2. Terminal Operations in the Port Must Be Unified: As has been shown the plan recommended by the Port of New York Authority is designed to co-ordinate all of the terminal facilities of the Port into one great terminal system.

That this co-ordinated system should function in the best public interest, the terminal operations must be unified and there must be some form of centralized control or administration. A large proportion of the enormous wastage set forth in the tables hereto appended can be attributed to duplication of effort in the terminal operations.

What the shipper at the Port of New York desires and that which economic wisdom dictates he should have is access to the lines of each and all of the carriers on equal terms and through equality of service.

The necessary operating changes probably will have to be evolutionary. However, the soundness of such a policy is indisputable. All that is needed to make a start is integration of the terminal plant which the plan of the Port Authority provides for.

As will have been observed in the foregoing, that part of the Port Authority's Plan affecting the New York side of the Port would effect very large savings. The aggregate estimated economies of the automatic electric system for serving Manhattan, and the Middle belt line-which would bring the New Jersey railroads to the easterly side of the Portamount to the sum of $13,800,000 annually.


It has been stated in the foregoing that the Port of New York Authority in offering a solution of the Port problem conceived certain principles to be fundamental, to repeat:

That the railroad terminal facilities at the Port must be wholly and completely co-ordinated and that terminal operations at the Port must be unified.

Again, as has already been pointed out, of the thirteen railroads serving the Port of New York, the rails of only three touch that part of the Port situated east of the Hudson River; all of the other lines, except the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad which serves Richmond, terminate on the westerly


The duty of an agency such as the Port of New York Authority, and the purpose for which it was created, makes it imperative that it look beyond political sub-divisions of the territory embraced within the Port District in seeking a soluplan which it has recommended, its aim was to put forth a tion of the Port problem. In submitting the comprehensive plan that would serve the whole of the Port District, for as far into the future as it is possible to foresee..

Before discussing the engineering features, it must be observed at the outset that no plan can be a "comprehensive plan" under the Port compact unless it is adopted by both States. The State of New York alone cannot create a comprehensive plan for the Port. Therefore, a plan which includes any tunnel or bridge as a part of it, must treat them as interstate units.

In fairness of the city engineers, it should be observed at the very outset that they were not charged with the duty of preparing a comprehensive interstate plan but were charged with the duty of preparing plans for a city tunnel to conect practicable, planned a conection with New Jersey via a bridge two boroughs and in their endeavor to make it economically across the Arthur Kill. If, however, despite the nature of their study, their plans are now to be considered as an interstate comprehensive plan, it must be tested by the same standards cf comparison.

In any such comparison of the Port Authority's comprehensive plan with the proposal of the Board of Estimate and apportionment of the City of New York, the underlying fundamentals of the situation must constantly be kept before us.

A glance at the map of the city's plan will show that the belt line which it proposes to be constructed in New Jersey, does not co-ordinate the railroad terminal facilities at the Port and under the City plan it would not be possible wholly to unify the railroad operations of the terminal district; therefore, the city's proposal fails in the two fundamentals which must serve as the foundation for any Comprehensive Plan.

As stated, an engineering analysis of comparative costs and values is possible. Such an analysis has been made in table VII hereto appended.

Table VI contains a comparison, based on engineering analysis, of the important features of the Port Authority's plan with the city's proposal. Reference to this table will show that the Middle belt line of the Port Authority's plan from its northernmost terminal to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, is 17.1 miles long while the city's belt line from its northernmost terminal to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, is 67.5 miles, the excess length of the city's line being 50.5 miles.

The Port Authority's tunnel is 24,290 feet while the Narrows tunnel proposed by the city is 22,750 feet or 1540 feet shorter. In this connection it must be remembered that the ruling grade of the Port Authority's tunnel is 1.6 per cent while the ruling grade of the tunnel under the Narrows is 2 per cent. If the grades of the city's tunnel were the same as the grades of the Port Authority's tunnel, the length of the city's tunnel would be increased appreciably.

Grades on railroads determine ease of movement of traffic. The grades proposed in the Port Authority's tunnel are more favorable and will be conducive to greater economy in operation. The length of any tunnel is determined by depth and grades. It is more economic to build a tunnel a little longer to make possible ease of handling trains, than to shorten it with grades that result in shorter trains and difficulties of operation such as stopping and starting and pulling out drawheads, thus obstructing the movement for hours at a time. This is a point thoroughly appreciated by practical operating


The estimated cost of constructing the 17.1 miles of belt line including the tunnel under Upper New York Bay as proposed by the Port Authority is $65,000,000. The city


engineers estimate the cost of constructing the belt line it proposes together with tunnel under the Narrows at $93,000,000. It will be seen that the excess cost of the city's line is twenty-eight million dollars.

As the length of the city's belt line is so much greater than the Middle belt line proposed by the Port Authority, it is easy to comprehend why table VI shows that to move via the city's line the same amount of tonnage and the same number of cars between the classification yards in New Jersey and their destination or point of origin in Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx, would necessitate 1,620,000 train miles as against 910,000 train miles under the Port Authority Plan and 973,000,0000 net ton miles under the city's plan as against 477,000,000 net ton miles required under the Port Authority plan.

The dissimilarity of physical characteristics of the two lines in grade and length, of course explains the excess first cost and the excess amount of effort measured in operating costs, required to perform a given service under the city's plan.

Naturally these disadvantages are reflected in the cost per car which would amount to $11.34 under the Port Authority's plan as against $15.17 under the city's proposal, the excess under the latter scheme being $3.83 per car. On a traffic movement of 1,340,000 cars annually, this excess cost would amount to more than $5,000,000 per annum, which if capitalized at 6 per cent amounts to $85,000,000.

Not only does the city's proposal fall when tested as a plan for the comprehensive development of the Port of New York; not only does it fall when tested by engineering and economic analysis; but it falls when considered as a feasible, practical utility for accomplishing the purpose for which it is designed.

Discussion in the report of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment fails to convince the practical railroad operator that its proposal is an operating feasibility. Let us assume that the freight destined to Brooklyn and Queens and for interchange with the Long Island and New Haven railroads would be broken out of trains arriving by the many railroads entering the Port, as those trains reach a junction point with the outer belt line. But this assumption is not reasonable. There is nothing in the city's engineers estimated cost of the proposed facility for construction classification yards at each of these junction points. Nor is there included in the estimated cost of operation any expense for yarding, that is, the breaking up trains, classifying and switching cars and making up trains into switching units at these junction points.

The city's report is likewise silent on the matter of delay that classification at junction points would occasion to the balance of the 50 or 60 million tons of freight moving into and out of the Port annually, besides that which the city engineers have assumed would move via its proposed belt line and tunnel.

If, however, the traffic to and from the easterly side of the Port is not to be broken out of trains and made up into switching units at the junction points, what then is the plan of operation? Transportation experts familiar with the character of the traffic handled through the Port of New York and its current of flow, cannot even begin to take seriously the suggestion that it is practicable, to any extent, to make up solid trains at divisional yards of the several lines in the interior and move such trains directly to junctions with the proposed belt line, thence via that line to the proposed yard in the Borough of Richmond.

Trains now arriving at the Port District contain freight for every section, that is, Manhattan, Newark, Greenville, Jersey City, Bayonne, Hoboken, Edgewater, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Richmond, and as well for interchange with the New Haven, Long Island and New York Central railroads; also freight for export and coastwise shipment. This

freight originates all along the line of each railroad from a distance of a thousand miles or more right up to the Port District.

Without interminable delays it would be impossible so to classify this freight at divisional yards in the interior as to enable it to move in solid trains from those yards directly to the junction points with the belt line, thence to the proposed vard at Richmond.

That this is true can be illustrated by taking the inbound proaches the Port District through six yards. Business from business on one of the trunk lines as an example. It apthe west through one yard; business from a large city through its yard; business from the south through another yard; business from a branch line through its yard; business from western New Jersey through another yard and business from southern New Jersey through still another yard. There is not enough traffic passing through any one of these yards daily, to make up a solid train for any particular section of the Port District, except one which has enough business to make up a few solid trains daily.

To hold cars at the divisional yards in the interior until solid trains could be dispatched would in many instances cause several days' delay to the freight. It is plain to be seen that additional yards will be necessary at junction points with the proposed belt line. However, even though yards were provided at junction points, there would be a considerable volume of business which would have to be handled into the present classification yards and back again to the junction point, for example; all cars for transfer stations would have to be taken to the transfer platforms which are now located near the classification yard, and freight for Brooklyn, Queens or Long Island reloaded into other cars would have to be hauled back to the junction point of the belt line, thereby causing a direct loss of time and money. Such operation as this is impracticable, with reference to the eastbound movement; it is impossible when the westbound movement is considered.

Even with new classification yards on Staten Island at which westbound cars would be classified by railroads, it would be necessary for each raliroad to take these cars to their present yards and transfer stations in order to make up solid trains for such points as Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo, etc. There would certainly be serious objection from shippers to the delay that would occur by any such movement. It is doubtful if freight shipped one day would move out the same day; at best it would be several hours later in leaving. Not only would there be this delay, but the additional expense of the back haul.

The proposed belt line in New Jersey is approximately fifteen miles west of the Hudson River and an average of twelve miles west of the present classification yards of the New Jersey railroads. It has been shown that the operation of such a line for the purposes intended, if otherwise practicable would necessitate yards at the junction of each railroad line with the belt line.

What justification can there be for advocating such a waste of capital? There exists today a classification yard on each railroad to serve the terminal district in New Jersey. These yards are outside of the congested area of terminal operation.

The congestion that has occurred in present classification yards in the past and that will undoubtedly occur in the future if measures of relief are not taken, comes about by reason of congestion along the New Jersey waterfront.

From Weehawken to Communipaw there are handled approximately, two million cars annually between the two sides. of the Port. More than one and one-half million of these cars are bridged to and from the carfloat at the New Jersey waterfront yards. The This is where the congestion occurs. Port Authority's plan will relieve this congestion by divert


ing part of this traffic directly at the classification yard to its middle belt line, by which it will move directly to Brooklyn, Queens and New England; the balance destined to Manhattan, will be diverted to the joint yards which it proposes for Manhattan freight, thus keeping out of the waterfront yards on the New Jersey side all of these cars.

The construction of classification yards at the junction points of the city's proposed belt line would not release any of the present classification yards.

Every railroad must have a classification yard within switching distance of the waterfront, in which to separate and classify the cars for various destinations, stations, sidings, etc., both for inbound and outbound movement and particularly in the case of outbound cars, which have to be made up in solid trains for principal destinations and in station order for way points.

There is another point on which enlightenment is sought. In the traffic and car tables included in the Board of Estimate and Apportionment's report, some 400,000 cars, annually interchanged between the railroads on the New Jersey side are shown as moving by the proposed belt line. How these cars are to be cut out of through trains at the junction points, when no provision is made for yards thereat, is beyond the ingenuity of the practical railroad operator.

Even though yards were provided at the junction points, this traffic should not stop there, to be broken out of trains, thence interchanged between the different Jersey railroads via the proposed belt line-when the destination is industries located along the waterfront in New Jersey. This is another instance in which traffic destined to other sections of the Port would be seriously and needlessly delayed were it routed by the city's proposed belt.

Notwithstanding the impracticability of this sort of an operation, the vast volume of interchange referred to as moving between the New Jersey roads has been credited to the operation of the proposed line. The purpose of this inclusion is clear-to assist in proving the economic justification of the plan.

By referring further to the city's report, it will be observed that in attempting economic justification for its plan it has taken credit for an amount of one and one-half million dollars covering the estimated cost of moving 2,000,000 cars annually between the junction points of the carriers' lines with the proposed belt line and the present break-up yards. Of this two million cars, four hundred thousand consists of interchange between the New Jersey railroads.

The balance of the traffic which is allocated to the proposed belt line, cinsisting of one million, six hundred thousand cars destined to Brooklyn, Queens and points beyond in Long Island or New England, cannot be kept out of the present break-up yards unless yards are provided at the junction points. This has been made clear in the foregoing argument, therefore, the calculations are also in error in assuming credit on the theory that this business would not move to the present classification yards.

There are many other errors of assumption in the tables of tonnage and cost included in the city's report.

A very serious omission is that no charge has been made for use of the Long Island and New York connecting railroads or a line of similar purpose, which would be absolutely essential to distribute the tonnages which the city's engineers have assumed would move over the proposed belt line and through the proposed tunnel to Bay Ridge.

In working out the cost of the proposed operation, the city has assumed that nine million tons of freight would be distributed after reaching Bay Ridge, along the proposed marginal waterfront line in Brooklyn. The balance of the traffic allocated to its belt line and tunnel, amounting to eleven million tons, it leaves at the mouth of the tunnel on the Bay Ridge side, nothing being included for the cost of handling this freight between that point and its destination in Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx.

In the tables hereto appended, a fair and reasonable comparison has been made of the economics of the Port Authority's plan with the city's proposal. ity's plan with the city's proposal. The same tonnage movement has been used in both cases. The traffic expectation is based on a study of 1914 tonnages handled and cars moved and is conservative. The same traffic distribution has been assumed in both cases. The same unit costs have been used in working out the economies of both plans.

The great variance in the cost per car as shown by the data contained in the city's report and as shown by the Port Authority's analysis of the city's plan, can be attributed to errors of assumption on which the city has based its case.

The proposal of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment cannot in any manner be considered a plan for the comprehensive development of the Port of New York.

No plan can be said to be comprehensive that fails to provide for the whole of the Port District. The city's proposal, including as it does a belt railroad in New Jersey which does not co-ordinate the terminal facilities of the Port District; that would occasion more serious delay to traffic than occurs under present methods of operation; that fails to relieve congestion; and that in no way provides a solution of the Manhattan problem, cannot be seriously considered as a comprehensive plan to lift from the commerce and industry of the Port the burden of excessive costs that it now bears.

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