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Port Newark–Elizabeth Marine Terminal, a major component of the Port of New York and New Jersey, is the principal container ship facility for goods entering and leaving New York metropolitan area and the northeastern quadrant of North America. Located on Newark Bay, the facility is run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Its two components—Port Newark and the Elizabeth Marine Terminal (sometimes called "Port Newark" and "Port Elizabeth")—sit side by side within the cities of Newark and Elizabeth, New Jersey, just east of the New Jersey Turnpike and Newark Liberty International Airport.
The busiest container port in the world in 1985, the Port was, as of 2004, the largest in the eastern United States and the third-largest in the country.
Container goods typically arrive on container ships through the Narrows and the Kill Van Kull before entering Newark Bay, a shallow body of water that has been dredged to accommodate large ships (some ships enter Newark Bay via the Arthur Kill). The port facility consists of two main dredged slips and multiple loading cranes. Metal containers are stacked in large arrays visible from the New Jersey Turnpike before being loaded onto rail cars and trucks.
In 2009, the major port operators at Port Newark–Elizabeth included Maher terminals, APM terminal (A. P. Moller-Maersk), and PNCT (Port Newark Container terminal).
Since 1998, the port has seen a 65% increase in traffic. In 2003, the port moved over $100 billion in goods. In 2006, it handled more than 20% of all US imports from Germany, more than any other US port.
Plans are underway for billions of dollars in improvements, including larger cranes, bigger railyard facilities, deeper channels, and expanded wharves. New longshoremen are being hired as well. New cranes arrived in May 2014.
The height of ships serving the port is limited by the Bayonne Bridge over Kill Van Kull, a limitation that will become more serious when the Panama Canal expansion project opens in 2014, allowing bigger ships to reach the port from Asia. The Port Authority recently announced plans to increase the height of the Bayonne Bridge's roadway to 215 feet, which will solve the problem. The project is expected to cost around $1 billion.
The port's rail system consists of intermodal yards and sidings that lead into warehouses on the dock. The main intermodal yards in and around the port are as follows:
The western edge of Newark Bay was originally shallow tidal wetlands covering about 12 square miles (31 km2). In the 1910s, the city of Newark began excavating an angled shipping channel in the northeastern quadrant of the wetland. This became the basis of Port Newark. Work on the channel and terminal facilities on its north side accelerated during World War I, when the federal government took control of Port Newark. During the war, nearly 25,000 troops were stationed at the Newark Bay Shipyard.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was formed in 1921, and the Newark Bay Channels were authorized by the Rivers and Harbors Acts in 1922. Shipping operations languished after the war, and in 1927, the city of Newark started construction of Newark Airport (now known as Newark Liberty International Airport) on the northwestern quadrant of the wetlands that lay between Port Newark and the edge of the developed city. The port authority took over the operations of Port Newark and Newark Airport in 1948 and began modernizing both facilities and expanding them southward.
The SS Ideal X, considered the first container ship, made its maiden voyage on April 26, 1956, carrying 58 containers from Port Newark to the Port of Houston. Sea-Land Service expanded its operations into the newly developed container terminal.
In 1958, the port authority dredged another shipping channel, which straightened the course of Bound Brook, the tidal inlet forming the boundary between Newark and Elizabeth. Dredged materials were used to create new upland south of the new Elizabeth Channel, where the port authority constructed the Elizabeth Marine Terminal. The first shipping facility to open on the Elizabeth Channel was the new 90-acre (36 ha) Sea-Land Container Terminal, which was the prototype for virtually every container terminal constructed thereafter.
This new port facility antiquated most of the traditional waterfront port facilities in New York Harbor, leading to a steep decline in such areas as Manhattan, Hoboken, and Brooklyn. The automated nature of the facility requires far fewer workers and does not require the opening of containers before onward shipping.
In 2011, PANYNJ restructured the lease of a major tenant, Port Newark Container Terminal (PNCT). The agreement calls for a 20-year extension of PNCT's existing lease through 2050, subject to PNCT's investment of $500 million and an expansion from 180 to about 287 acres to accommodate additional volume. It is expected to generate an annual increase in container volume from Mediterranean Shipping Company, the world's second-largest shipping company, from 414,000 to 1.1 million containers by 2030. Various planned steps to accommodate this growth include deepening the Kill van Kull, raising the Bayonne Bridge, and expanding rail freight facilities.
The facility is considered to be one of the highest-risk terrorist target sites in the United States. Other such sites in New Jersey include the Holland Tunnel and the PATH station at Exchange Place, both of which are in Jersey City, and the Lincoln Tunnel, which connects nearby Weehawken to Manhattan.
Other seaport terminals of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey include: