Going Bayonne the Pale?

Every so often, in the wide, wide world of container shipping, something happens that makes sense. Last week the Coalition for Healthy Ports, a group of environmentalists and community organizers, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Teamsters Union, has filed a lawsuit to stop the raising of the Bayonne Bridge in the Port of New York and New Jersey until another environmental impact study is done.

Cargo News reported that, “The plaintiffs argue in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York that the project will increase air pollution through construction and increased cargo volume that will require increased use of trucks.

“The US Coast Guard, which did its own impact study, issued a permit in May to allow the port authority to proceed with the $ 1.3 billion project to raise the bridge’s roadway by 64 feet.

“The project will provide 215-foot clearance for large container ships transiting Kill van Kull to terminals in the Port Newark-Elizabeth, New Jersey, and on Staten Island.

“Raising the bridge is seen by the port authority and many businesses as essential because many large containerships cannot pass beneath the bridge to get to terminals, unless the roadbed of the bridge is raised, said American Shipper.

“Those big ships are expected to arrive in greater numbers after the widening of the Panama Canal is completed in 2015 and because of the increasing use of the Suez Canal for US east coast-bound Asian cargo.” –

The Coalition for Healthy Ports might just save our bacon after all.

“Cui bono?” We know what that’s all about. In this particular instance we should be asking “Who’s doing the fleecing, and who’s getting fleeced?”

To begin with, who’s supposed to be putting up the $ 1.3 billion? The Port Authority, right? And because the port authority is jointly owned by the states of New York and New Jersey, the taxpayers in those states are the ones who’ll be tapped for a million dollars, one thousand three hundred times.
That’s a lot of million dollar payments. Thirteen hundred of ’em.

But will the taxpayers ever see a nickel’s worth of profit? No. And for a number of reasons, the most important one being that much of the under-the-table money is for “sweetheart deals.”

That little fourth grade girl we interviewed five or six years ago would ask, “Why aren’t the owners of those container ships paying for that construction project? Why are they bleeding folks who can’t even find a decent job nowadays? Huh? And why aren’t those folks putting up a stink?”