Photo: Port of New York and New Jersey

Photo: Port of New York and New Jersey

Annual cargo volumes handled at the Port of New York and New Jersey set a new record in 2014, surpassing the previous record set in 2012.

The port handled 3,342,286 cargo containers, an increase of 5.4% over the previous year and 4.1% more than in 2012, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The record volumes allowed the port to maintain its position as the busiest on the East Coast with nearly 30% of the total market share.

ExpressRail, the port authority’s ship-to-rail system serving New York and New Jersey marine terminals, also set a new record, handling 465,405 containers during the year, up 9.3% over 2013. The previous annual record was set in 2012, with 433,481 containers handled.

“Our port is continuing to reap the benefits of an uptick in the economy, which has resulted in the hiring of more dockworkers and economic growth for the region,” said port authority executive director Pat Foye.

During 2014, China remained the top import country serving the port, with 923,975 import containers. Following China is Germany with 179,715 import containers and India with 176,621. The top import commodities in 2014 were furniture, beverages and appliances.

In 2014, there were 2,432 vessel calls in the port, down 2.3% from the 2,488 vessel calls in 2013. According to the port authority the fewer vessel calls illustrate that much of the cargo coming into the port is arriving in larger ships, a trend that it expects will continue after the Bayonne Bridge is raised. Construction on the $1.6 billion bridge project is continuing. When completed in the summer of 2016, it will allow new, larger vessels to travel underneath it. Work also is continuing on the 50-foot harbor deepening project, which also is expected to be completed early 2016. The project also will allow new, larger vessels to call on port terminals.

Emissions caused by port-related activity have been declining as port volumes have increased. For the six-year period between 2006 and 2012, the most recent data available, major pollutants decreased about 33% despite a 8.6% increase in port cargo volume over the same period.