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Pneumatic waste collection planned for New York’s High Line park


NEW YORK – The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has released a Pre-Implementation Planning Study prepared by infrastructure planning and development firm ClosedLoops for a pneumatic waste management initiative for the High Line park and surrounding buildings.

The High Line is a 1.5-mile (2.5-km) viaduct, once used to provide rail freight service for a manufacturing district in Manhattan. The project would attach a pneumatic tube to this viaduct to transport three waste fractions (refuse, recyclables, and organics) from adjacent buildings, as well as from litter bins in the park and the local Business Improvement District, to a collection terminal. There, these materials would be compacted into sealed containers and loaded directly onto railcars to be hauled to processing and disposal facilities for each waste type.

The proposal includes a separate, small-diameter pneumatic tube that would collect kitchen waste from adjacent food businesses to be processed in an anaerobic digestor located near the High Line. An earlier phase of this project established its economic and operational feasibility, as well as its potential to provide environmental and quality-of-life benefits.

It would annually remove a projected 800,000 trash bags set out on the street by the Meatpacking BID, the High Line Park, and stores and other businesses that do not have off-street access to compactor containers in loading docks. It is also projected to eliminate 150,000 annual trash truck miles, thereby reducing traffic congestion, fatalities and injuries to bicyclists and pedestrians, and roadway wear.

The purpose of this project phase was to examine issues that need to be addressed if the project is to be implemented. These included advancing discussions with the stakeholders whose support for and participation in the project would be needed for its realization; developing more detailed physical and operational analyses needed for the detailed design and engineering plans required for budgeting; and devising a potential financing, business, and ownership model for project development and operation.

With the full report publicly accessible, the New York State-funded pre-implementation planning phase is now complete. The next step will develop a detailed ownership/operating model, the more-detailed system design needed to refine construction-cost estimates, and a timeline for the steps leading to construction and operation—all of which will be required for the go/no go decision that is the next project milestone.

At its last meeting, the local community board voted unanimously to send a letter to the Mayor, Council Speaker, and Borough President, which urges the Mayor to instruct his agencies to offer their full support and cooperation during this next stage of work. In response to this letter, Borough President Brewer sent a letter to Deputy Mayor Anglin, asking her to “help advance the High Line Pneumatic Waste Management Initiative.”


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