The Port of New York and New Jersey is facing costly delays for truckers and cargo owners as the port is experiencing record levels of import containers, according to the Journal of Commerce. As a result, lines as long as six miles stretch out from terminals and local highways are gridlocked with truck traffic.
It was the latest and arguably most severe manifestation of delays that have plagued the port for weeks. Congestion has been worst at Port Newark Container Terminal and GCT Bayonne. Both recently have begun handling larger ships, including extra vessels that carriers have deployed to cope with recent gridlock at West Coast ports.
Trucking companies are blaming it on ports taking in too much volume and the terminals are blaming it on truck volume surges.
Large ships often compound the problem as the large amounts of cargo they deposit at one time puts a premium on the speed of pickup. Containers are initially allowed to remain on the dock for free but are charged fees the longer they remain. Fees for containers can reach as high as $355 per day after free time, and refrigerated cargo is charged even more. This causes surges in trucks arriving at terminals as trucking companies compete to offload the expiring cargo as quickly as possible. The trucks line up ahead of gate hours to get an early start on pickups and maximize the number of trips a driver does in one day. Due to space concerns, terminals have been limiting the number of empty boxes that each ocean carrier can store at a terminal.Many carriers are requiring empties to be delivered to off-terminal depots. This has freed up scarce acreage at terminals, but has created a new challenge for truckers who now must make an additional stop at an off-dock depot to pick up or deliver an empty box. That causes massive traffic backups throughout the day and limits the number of moves a trucker can accomplish in a day.
Last week’s traffic jams outside GCT Bayonne prompted Port Authority police (PAPD) to reinstate a ban on truck queues outside the terminal before 5:30 a.m. The announcement came after the terminal appealed for truckers to schedule arrivals “more regularly throughout the regular gate hours” of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. The PAPD has also turned away drivers when the truck lines back up and affect street traffic within the port area.
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