Hidden Po(r)tential

Halfway between New York and Philadelphia is a place commonly referred to as North Jersey. At one time the area was one of the world’s dominant industrial centers and even now is home to more than 20,000 manufacturing firms. Along with these excellent facilities are a number of other pluses, not the least of which is a well-trained labor force of more than three hundred thousand.

There is a negative side, however, and it just happens to be its location – it is “halfway between New York and Philadelphia”, and requires a tremendous transportation system in order to get its diverse products to market. Busy highways like the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway are part of a network of toll roads and freeways, and the state is linked to Delaware and Pennsylvania by many bridges across the Delaware River.

Traffic northward is served by railway and subway tunnels and by the facilities of the Port of New York and New Jersey, and that’s where the rub comes in. Shipping in North Jersey centers on the ports of Newark and Elizabeth, with relatively minor seagoing traffic on the Delaware, and when you stop to think about it, that’s not a very desirable scenario. Ask U.S. Department of transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, whose major concerns are the nation’s congested highways and the air pollution caused by the thousands of trucks wearing out America’s highways evert day.

Almost three years ago – on April 7th, 2010 – Secretary LaHood unveiled an initiative to move more cargo on the water rather than on crowded U.S. highways. Under the “America’s Marine Highway Program”, the Administration’s aim is to identify waterways and coastal routes that could carry cargo efficiently, bypassing congested roads around busy ports and reducing greenhouse gases.

Up to now, the all-water routes identified by MARAD consist of 11 Corridors, 4 Connectors and 3 Crossings that – it is hoped – could relieve the stress upon the nation’s surface transportation system. So far so good, but one of the most important Corridors (or Connectors, or Crossings) now existing has been overlooked because there’s no known way to utilize it.

Ever hear of the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal? This canal is the world’s only sea-level canal and its 14-mile length cuts across the northern Delaware/Maryland peninsula. Take a look at it, along with its six large crossing bridges, the next time you’re browsing the internet. Would this waterway reduce transportation costs for North Jersey/Southern Pennsylvania manufacturing firms? Would it serve as a profitable and useful route in “America’s Marine Highway Program? Yes, and yes. Why, then, has it been overlooked?

It’s all very simple. No one has been able to provide a container vessel that could bring North Jersey products efficiently and profitably to national markets. A number of attempts have been made but all vessels tried have been too small and much too inefficient. Time is money, and the time spent to load and offload containers using conventional methods led to failure in every case.

Only our patented container ships could enliven “America’s Marine Highway Program”.