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Barge Anchorages On The Hudson – An Evaluation

Concerns are being raised by environmental interests and some business groups over the US Coast Guard’s proposed 10 new anchorage grounds in the Hudson River, to improve navigational safety for large commercial vessels between Yonkers and Kingston. With the River on the mend from years of neglect and abuse, it is understandable that people want to keep it on that way. The scenic beauty has been revived from the NYC suburbs to the Capital Region and beyond, with forgotten buildings giving way to parks, cultural centers and public promenades.

However, the Hudson remains a commercial corridor. Freight and passenger trains run along its shores, and seagoing ships can be found making the run to the Ports of Albany and Coeymans. The canals to the north are home to an ever growing population of tugboats ( love!) and barges, carrying increased volumes of cargo, and joined by new types of vessels powered by alternative energy. New commercial facilities are planned, and this means more opportunity for high paying jobs making American made products right here in the Empire State.

Certainly this balance of economy and ecology is a delicate one, and must be carefully maintained. Are we really going to see that many new vessels that these anchorages are needed? And for what cargo? Some have suggested this will allow numerous oil barges to be moored, risking serious pollution in the event of an accident.

Still, precious cargo means precious jobs. If there are concerns over the type of commerce being transacted, then perhaps regulatory efforts should be aimed there versus the means of transport. Tugboat operators need to safely move and moor their vessels.

Old timers probably wonder what all this fuss is about, remembering that the “mothball fleet” of some 189 ships once rode at anchor near Tomkins Cove. For them, the Hudson is and has always been a working River.

-Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce, “A business advocacy group”

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