USA: Officials Launch USD 250 Million New York Harbor Project
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye launched a $250 million construction project to boost economic development in New York Harbor. The project involves digging a new water transmission main – called a siphon – between Staten Island and Brooklyn that will allow for the removal of two existing tunnels that are currently at a much shallower depth.
This in turn will enable the dredging and deepening of the Anchorage Channel, a process that is critical for accommodating increased cargo volumes and larger vessels in future years. The announcement was made on Staten Island at the site where the 110-ton, 300-foot-long tunnel boring machine, will soon begin drilling 100 feet underground. Over the next ten months, the tunnel boring machine will drill a distance of nearly two miles. The Mayor and Executive Director Foye were joined by Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland, New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky and Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro.
“New York Harbor has been a critical part of our economy since the founding of our great city some 400 years ago,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “And if we want New York City’s economy to stay competitive, we must accommodate new mega-ships and their cargo. This investment in our infrastructure will spur economic activity all along our working waterfront.”
“The Port Authority has committed $1 billion to the ongoing, decade-long dredging of New York and New Jersey’s channels to help ensure we can accommodate larger cargo vessels and maintain our port’s place as the largest on the East Coast,’’ said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye. “We understand the impact this project has on the water resources of Staten Island and we are making sure that this dredging project also brings direct benefits to borough residents.”
The Port of New York and New Jersey is the largest on the East Coast, handling nearly 40 percent of the East Coast shipping trade, and is the third-largest port in the country, providing more than 279,000 jobs to the local economy and $12 billion in annual wages. Last year saw record cargo volumes at these facilities, with 5.5 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) processed, eclipsing the 2007 record set before the economic downturn. With future cargo volumes expected to double over the next decade, the Anchorage Channel must be deepened in order to accommodate the new generation of larger cargo vessels and better position the region to benefit from growth in global trade. These new, larger next-generation ‘Post-Panamax’ vessels also bring environmental benefits by carrying more cargo in fewer ships and cleaner fuel technology. The New York and New Jersey Harbor Deepening Project is being managed by the Port Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is expected to be completed in 2014.
To accommodate the dredging, a new drinking water transmission main must be installed beneath the Upper New York Bay between Brooklyn and Staten Island in order to replace two existing siphons, currently at depths of 56 feet and 60 feet. The new siphon will be at a depth of 100 feet. The Port Authority and DEP are splitting the project’s costs, with each contributing $125 million. The project is being implemented and managed by the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
“World-class NYC Water will continue to flow to Staten Island for future generations because of this siphon,” said DEP Commissioner Strickland. “With this $250 million investment to ensure adequate backup water redundancy for Staten Island, we are fulfilling one of the original 127 initiatives in PlaNYC—a groundbreaking plan that laid out the city’s vision for our vast water supply network. Mayor Bloomberg’s commitment to maintaining and improving our water and wastewater systems is without parallel, accounting for nearly $22 billion in investments since 2002.”
“The new water siphon is not only safeguarding the water supply on Staten Island, but is also a major investment in the future of the Port of New York and New Jersey. This, along with the necessary harbor deepening project, will allow us to remain competitive in the international shipping industry, protecting the hundreds of thousands of jobs it supports, and spurring new economic growth throughout the region,” said Economic Development Corporation President Pinsky.
“Our city’s waterways have helped make New York City the world capital it is today and this announcement will ensure their continued use and a source of jobs for many more years to come,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. I applaud the Bloomberg Administration, Carter Strickland, Patrick Foye, Seth Pinsky, and James Molinaro for their dedication to job creation in Staten Island and throughout NYC.”
“The dredging of the Harbor will allow Staten Island’s shipping and receiving industry to remain competitive throughout our region, protecting existing jobs and encouraging the development of new ones,” said Staten Island Borough President Molinaro. “Additionally, the new water siphon will ensure that our Borough’s water needs are met, especially as our population continues to grow.”
“This water siphon project is the kind of common sense solution we need to safeguard Staten Island’s future,” said Rep. Grimm. “Staten Island has always been an integral part of the working waterfront of New York City and the region, and there’s no doubt that this initiative will extend a lifeline to our local economy by safeguarding jobs and increasing trade. Now, more than ever, we must do we all can to keep water and jobs flowing into Staten Island, and this project will do just that.”
“Ensuring a safe and adequate water supply is of paramount importance. I am glad we will be able to do that while at the same time keeping New York’s leading role in the shipping industry,” said Assemblyman Matthew Titone.
“This major infrastructure project will ensure the economic viability of the New York Harbor by deepening the shipping lanes and will guarantee the unfettered delivery of drinking water to Staten Island by installing a new water siphon,” said Council Member Debi Rose.
As part of the ongoing New York and New Jersey Harbor Deepening Project, the channel is being dredged to approximately 50 feet deep in the seabed to accommodate ships with drafts that exceed 45 feet, the present depth of Anchorage Channel. Ocean shipping of goods remains the most economical and environmentally friendly way to move cargo around the globe, and the Anchorage Channel is one of the most heavily-used shipping channels in the world with over five thousand ships passing through it every year. With the arrival of larger ships calling on New York area ports in recent years, the Harbor Deepening Project and the Port Authority’s raising of the Bayonne Bridge will facilitate the arrival of the new generation of container ships and keep the region’s marine terminals competitive. The dredging project is expected to be completed by the end of 2014 in time for the expansion of the Panama Canal.
This new, larger 72-inch siphon is being built to replace two existing water mains connecting Bay Ridge in Brooklyn to Stapleton and Tompkinsville in Staten Island that will ultimately be removed during dredging. The new siphon, which will serve as the primary back up water feed for Staten Island, will provide five million gallons of daily water supply under normal conditions and up to 150 million gallons per day in emergency situations, ensuring a reliable supply of water for the nearly 500,000 residents of Staten Island. Staten Island uses approximately 50 million gallons per day of drinking water. The completion of the tunneling portion is expected in 2013, with the larger project slated for completion in 2014.
The primary water supply for Staten Island is the Richmond Tunnel, a 10-foot deep rock water tunnel placed into service in 1970. The city currently maintains two siphons to provide a back-up water supply for Staten Island through a connection beneath the Upper New York Bay to Brooklyn. The two existing siphons were built in 1917 and 1925, respectively, but they are too close to the final depth of the harbor and must be replaced since they could be disturbed during the planned dredging operations in the channel. The new steel siphon can accommodate current and future harbor dredging projects because the water main will be contained within a 12-foot excavated diameter bored tunnel buried deep in the seabed at a depth of 100 feet. The earth pressure bound tunnel-boring machine, being used for the first time in NYC as it is made specifically for use in soft ground as opposed to bedrock, will constantly move forward and simultaneously build the tunnel four feet at a time, repeating this process 2360 times, with crews constantly building train tracks to transport workers, equipment, and dirt to and from the mouth of a tunnel.
The siphon project also includes the construction of shafts in Brooklyn and Staten Island with associated water control equipment and a chlorination station on Staten Island to supplement water disinfection and other related infrastructure improvements to connect to the existing distribution networks in both boroughs. The Staten Island shaft will be used to launch the tunnel boring machine, which will excavate the tunnel for the siphon and the Brooklyn shaft will be used to retrieve the tunnel boring machine. To connect the new siphon to the local water distribution network, the project will install 6,545 feet of new water mains in Staten Island and 1,710 feet of new water mains in Brooklyn. In Staten Island the new water mains will run along Van Duzer Street, Victory Boulevard, Front Street and Murray Hulbert Avenue. In Brooklyn, the improvement to the existing water mains will occur near 79th Street and Shore Road and along Shore Road between 83rd and 86th Street. The project will also include the restoration of street landscaping, tree protection and a new pavement walkway around Shore Road Park.
This initiative is part of the Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy, a sustainable blueprint for New York City’s waterfront and waterways launched by Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn in May 2011. To reconnect New Yorkers and visitors to the water and reclaim New York City’s standing as a premier waterfront city, the plan will transform the City’s waterfront with new parks, new industrial activities and new housing, and it will capitalize on the City’s waterways to promote water-borne transportation, recreation, maritime activity and natural habitats. The plan has two components: a three-year action agenda comprised of 130 funded projects, including the development of more than 50 acres of new waterfront parks, creation of 14 new waterfront esplanades and introduction of new commuter ferry service; and the Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, a framework for the City’s 520 miles of shoreline for the next decade and beyond. The 130 action agenda projects are expected to create 13,000 construction jobs and at least 3,400 permanent maritime and industrial jobs. It is the first citywide plan for the waterfront in nearly two decades and the first ever comprehensive plan for the waterways themselves.
Dredging Today Staff, April 20, 2012; Image: nyc.gov