Blue Highways Program: Activating NYC's Waterways for the Sustainable Movement of Goods

NYC DOT and the NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) are committed to encouraging the use of NYC’s waterways to move goods into and around the City, as committed to in Delivering Green: A vision for a sustainable freight network serving New York City. Activating our marine facilities for freight will reduce traffic congestion and air pollution caused by our overreliance on trucks, and is a key part of the City’s broader greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategy.

The City is in the process of exploring a pilot program to facilitate new transloading operations of waterborne freight to sustainable last mile delivery method at City-owned marine facilities.

A stylized graphic illustration of a grey cityscape of tall buildings fronted by green trees on the left connects to a waterside open space on the right where a green electric truck and cargo bike face a blue and white boat resting on light blue water.

As a next step, the City will release a request for expressions of interest (RFEI) to invite interested respondents to better understand industry challenges and opportunities, including ways to implement and support businesses to engage in waterfront freight operations. The City is interested in modernizing existing marine infrastructure, expanding access to the waterfront, and helping to develop a sustainable model for last mile delivery that minimally impacts neighboring communities.

Sign up for NYC DOT's Freight Newsletter to receive updates for the release of the Blue Highways Program RFEI and for more information on NYC DOT’s other freight initiatives:

Three D H L delivery workers in yellow uniforms. In front is a cyclist standing behind his cargo bike, scanning a package, behind is a yellow D H L boat with two workers on board both carrying yellow padded envelopes.
Photo credit: DHL Express UK

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a RFEI?

A Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) posted through the NYC Mayor's Office of Contract Services (MOCS) PASSPort system. More information on the PASSport system

Who should respond to the RFEI

The City would like to hear from you if one or more of the following applies to you:

  • If you currently or previously have been interested in looking to shift operations from trucks to marine freight
  • If you operate sustainable last-mile delivery operations (cargo bikes, electric vehicles) and are interested in potentially partnering with others in a marine freight pilot project that may or not include landside micro distribution centers, among other potential strategies as defined in the Smart Truck Management Plan
  • If you have a project proposal for marine to sustainable last mile delivery transloading and would like to potentially partner with the City in a demonstration pilot.

How is this RFEI different from NYCEDC’s DockNYC RFEI?

NYCEDC’s 2021 DockNYC RFEI intended to seek proposals from maritime industry businesses wishing to immediately activate specific waterfront sites for maritime uses. The Blue Highways RFEI in early 2022 will be to solicit those ideas as well as ways the City can facilitate and support the use of marine vessels to move goods into/around the city. The Blue Highway RFEI will also have a focus on gauging industry interest in using low emission maritime vessels and sustainable last mile delivery methods, such as cargo bicycles and low or zero emission vehicles.

What happens after I submit a response?

The City will review all completed responses and may enter a limited pilot program with one or multiple vendors.

Which City agencies are involved in this initiative?

  • Other related municipal agencies such as Small Business Services and non-city agencies such as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will be consulted with regard to program implementation when facilities under their jurisdiction are impacted.
  • The City will coordinate with the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Council to ensure synergy with the Regional Freight Plan and other relevant work via the Metropolitan Area Planning (MAP) Forum.