South Jersey Port Corporation (SJPC) was awarded a $1,108,254 grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Rail Freight Assistance Program to advance its Rail Integration Program. The program increases the efficiencies of port operations and provides greater options for customers and transporting cargo. Rail shipping is a cost-effective option that can save time and money, and reduce emissions with estimates showing that on average moving freight by rail can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75%.
The grant will enable SJPC to purchase an electric rail car mover and two mobile loading docks. “This is another step in the program to ensure that our ports have competitive rail options so that our customers can take advantage of the three Class 1A railways that service our terminals,” said Brendan Dugan, Assistant Executive Director and Chief Commercial Officer for SJPC. “We are also investing $6 million to upgrade the rails at our Joseph A. Balzano Marine Terminal which will triple the amount of cargo we can handle by increasing the efficiency of load times.”
The improvements provide an opportunity to expand the local economy as crucial products like steel, cocoa beans, wood, and project cargo will get to businesses and consumers in the region more easily while also providing job opportunities for area residents.
SJPC’s Paulsboro Marine Terminal, which is the first new port built on the Delaware River in 50 years, opened in 2017 with 21,000 linear feet of on premise rail tracks. The rail tracks serve as a key transport option for the millions of tons of steel slabs that are imported to support the region’s steel manufacturing plants.
SJPC also offers on-demand commercial rail service to the Port of Salem with connections to both Class 1 Railroads – Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation. Over the past decade, $40 million has been invested to upgrade the Salem Rail Line. Rail service for industries in South Jersey and beyond offers better freight costs which strengthen companies’ bottom lines and support growing jobs in the region. Having reliable rail service also gives companies another reason to look at the region as a potential location.
The continuing upgrade of regional rail lines is key to New Jersey’s plan to spur economic development in the southern part of the state. It also strengthens the region’s position in building and support of offshore wind projects along the East Coast. A $300 million wind port will be located just seven miles south of SJPC’s Port of Salem, providing the opportunity for an integrated rail to barge service for the supply of offshore wind components.