IN the first eight months of the year the port complex of New York-New Jersey handled 4.995 million TEU, making it the second busiest US container gateway.
The Port of Los Angeles remains the nation's top container port with 6.31 million TEU handled over the same period. Long Beach port is in third place with 4.971 million TEU.
The Port of New York-New Jersey's improvement in the container port rankings was partly attributed to the ongoing US-China trade war, as beneficial cargo owners switch sourcing to countries not affected by the higher tariffs, reported New York's FreightWaves.
China is still NY-NJ's largest trading partner, accounting for US$22.3 billion in imports through August 2019. However, that's down eight per cent from the year-earlier period. In the first eight months of the year, the dollar value of goods coming from Vietnam through the port increased by 19 per cent, while imports from Thailand and Malaysia rose by 16 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's executive Rado Saragih said the trade dispute "is a contributing factor why we are gaining business from Long Beach."
"The Suez Canal connects us to Southeast Asia quite quickly," Mr Saragih said at a presentation about the port. "A lot of shippers have already migrated production into Southeast Asia countries" due to the tariffs.
However, the tariffs alone are not driving the volumes into the region. NY-NJ's market reach makes it an attractive gateway for containerised goods. Some 45 million consumers are within a four-hour drive of the port.
After investing $4 billion in major projects such as raising the Bayonne Bridge and dredging the NY-NJ harbour to 50-foot depth to enable larger ships to call, the port authority is planning for the next three decades years of growth.
Port authorities anticipate local demand for containerised goods will raise volumes to 12 million TEU by 2050, with upwards of five million more TEU coming from freight destined for other inland markets.
Once off the ship, containers move primarily by trucks, which handle up to 85 per cent of the volume coming from NY-NJ ports. Within that total, three-quarters are sent to distribution centres and warehouses in four New Jersey counties surrounding the port.
To keep those volumes moving, the port authority is looking at additional investments in the roadways surrounding the main marine terminals as part of its pathway to 2050. Those investments include widening the streets outside of the port Newark and Elizabeth marine terminals and easing access to the main interstates that connect the port, I-95 and I-78.
The port authority is also examining ways to expand the road network south of the GCT Bayonne marine terminal in port Jersey as new logistics sites are developed in the area.
APM Terminals, one of the port's biggest tenants, is also upgrading its terminals to ease truck flow. The terminal operator is nearing completion of a $200 million upgrade to its Elizabeth marine terminal. The upgrade includes four new container cranes for larger ships, a reinforced berth and an expanded truck gate.
The new truck gates are fitted with optical character recognition for containers, weigh-in-motion scales, radio frequency identification and closed-circuit television. The technology is expected to shave one minute from the 5,000 daily truck transactions at APM Elizabeth.