Little more than three miles separates Brooklyn from New Jersey across Upper New York Bay. By freight train, however, the trip between the two can cover 280 miles and take more than 24 hours.
That is because in recent years virtually all rail traffic between Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island, at one end, and points south, at the other, has traveled over the ''Selkirk Hurdle,'' a 280-mile loop that extends up the east shore of the Hudson River to a bridge at Selkirk, N.Y., near Albany, then down the west side of the river.
That story from 30 years ago - and the same problem exists today!
The Poughkeepsie railroad bridge has been out of service since 1974 and cross-harbor rail ferry service is rather limited.
A cross-harbor tunnel for rail freight has been proposed, at tremendous expense. The existing commuter railroads have marginal capacity for freight services.
Studies performed for the Cross-Harbor Rail Tunnel say about 30,000 trucks per day cross the George Washington Bridge and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge going to or from parts of Long Island, including Queens and Brooklyn, or about 10 million trucks per year.