Transporting aggregate into the Big Apple

By |  October 26, 2018
Increasing road traffic elevates barges as a viable option to deliver construction materials to New York City. Photo courtesy of Superior Industries

Increasing road traffic elevates barges as a viable option to deliver construction materials to New York City. Photo courtesy of Superior Industries

Getting much-needed construction aggregate into a metro area as massive as New York City is a logistics challenge.

Getting it shipped cost-effectively is an even greater challenge.

Enter Gotham Aggregates, a young, innovative stevedoring and logistics operation founded by several seasoned aggregate and transportation veterans. Located along the Passaic River near the mouth of Newark Bay, the Gotham Aggregates barge-loading facility is a cost-efficient conduit for New Jersey aggregate producers to the New York City and metro tri-state markets.

“If you’re going to access these metro markets and do it effectively, barge transport is the way to do it,” says Tom Wade, director of operations for Gotham Aggregates.

Overall, Wade cites up to a 35 percent reduction in shipping costs with barge versus truck delivery to major metro markets. He points to the many disadvantages of truck transport, such as limited truck availability, labor costs, emissions and bridge tolls as high as $100 per truckload – equating to additional costs of $3 per ton.

Plus, ever-increasing traffic congestion reduces the number of possible daily loads per truck from Newark, New Jersey, to New York City, down from four to just two per day.

With those obstacles in mind, Wade and partners Brad and Tyler Youvan, decided to “blaze the entrepreneurial trail.” They took on the long, arduous task of acquiring a suitable waterfront site and launched their barge-loading operation in the summer of 2017.

Utilizing a small footprint

Gotham Aggregates’ barge-loading facility is a conduit for New Jersey aggregate producers to the New York City market. Photo courtesy of Superior Industries

Gotham Aggregates’ barge-loading facility is a conduit for New Jersey aggregate producers to the New York City market. Photo courtesy of Superior Industries

Gotham Aggregates ultimately selected a small acre-and-a-half riverfront site that places it between 15 and 40 nautical miles from a number of target markets.

The close proximity to the markets and an ability to achieve expedited shipment turnaround times makes up for the limited stockpiling area on the small footprint.

To optimize flow within the tight configuration, a goal was to design a facility that met several top requirements: accepting and unloading a desired number of truckloads per day; loading two barges simultaneously without having to move the barges; and maximizing load volumes while ensuring safety and stability on the barge. This aggressive gameplan would require the right design team and equipment to bring it all to fruition.

Initially, Brad consulted with long-time colleague Rod Dibble, president of Dibble Equipment, a New York-based conveying equipment partner of Superior Industries.

“Rod Dibble and the Superior Industries engineers supported us through the entire process, providing us with design and engineering expertise as we searched for potential sites, and as we erected and started up the current facility,” says Brad, Gotham co-founder.

Ensuring cost-efficient operation

A truck unloader system feeds the telescoping conveyor, which operates on a 24-ft.-wide x 365-ft.-long deck. Photo courtesy of Superior Industries

A truck unloader system feeds the telescoping conveyor, which operates on a 24-ft.-wide x 365-ft.-long deck. Photo courtesy of Superior Industries

At the heart of the Gotham barge-loading operation is a 36-in. x 150-ft. Superior TeleStacker, a telescoping radial stacking conveyor that’s engineered to prevent material segregation and load greater volumes in a variety of configurations.

A truck unloader system feeds the telescoping conveyor, which operates on a 24-ft.-wide x 365-ft.-long deck or “spud” barge. Moored by using pilings or shafts commonly referred to as spuds, the spud barge acts as an extension, spanning the distance from the shore out to a water depth adequate for barge operation.

The telescoping radial stacking conveyor system is capable of loading two barges simultaneously – without the time-consuming task of moving the barges backward or forward during loading.

The operation also has the ability to raise and lower the conveyor to adjust to the different heights of the river throughout the year, while also adjusting the discharge height as the weight of the load causes the barge to lower in the water.

“The TeleStacker conveyor gives us two major benefits in a fixed marine facility,” Wade says. “Bottom line, we can load the maximum amount of tonnage in the shortest amount of time – typically two barges during the morning shift, and an additional two barges during the afternoon. Since we don’t have to take the time to winch the barges back and forth, we lower our costs per ton.”

Gotham can configure the conveyor to move radially in an arc, as well as to extend its stinger in and out to traverse the entire length and width of the two 274-ft. x 57-ft. barges. This maximizes volumes from corner to corner while loading for safe, level operation.

Making an impact

A 36-in. x 150-ft. TeleStacker telescoping radial stacking conveyor is at the center of the barge-loading operation. Photo courtesy of Superior Industries

A 36-in. x 150-ft. TeleStacker telescoping radial stacking conveyor is at the center of the barge-loading operation. Photo courtesy of Superior Industries

Barges are loaded, delivered, unloaded and received back at the Gotham site in less than 36 hours. An average of up to 150 truckloads of material arrives at the facility each day from producers typically located within 30 to 70 miles of the site.

“Trucking to our barge-loading operation versus trucking directly to New York City markets from New Jersey quarries reduces travel time by 50 percent or more – and producers require less trucks to move the same volumes,” Wade says.

Barge shipments to most markets (averaging 30 nautical miles away) are less than 2.5 hours in travel time, Wade adds. Eliminating 80 truckloads from the highway per shipment eases traffic congestion.

Future plans at Gotham Aggregates may include expanding the physical footprint; installing automated bin systems that minimize material re-handling; and adding a new automation package to the telescoping radial stacker.

Illustrating the just-barge-it trend, from port to port, each year the nation’s coastline barge operators move more than 800 million tons of bulk commodities. For logistics management companies such as Gotham Aggregates, the big benefit is lower operating costs and higher profit margins for aggregate producers and their customers.


Carol Wasson is a veteran freelance writer for the aggregate and construction equipment industries.

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