The U.S. Coast Guard opened the Port of New York and New Jersey on Thursday on a restricted basis to get gasoline and fuel to the areas hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy.

The limited opening of the Port of New York and New Jersey to allow for fuel deliveries is aimed at stemming the widespread shortages and massive lines at gas stations in the two states, and in Connecticut, said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY.

The action comes as residents of both states stood in tense lines at gas stations awaiting fuel for home generators in areas without power, and for their cars and trucks frequently stuck in fuel-wasting traffic snarls. New Jersey state police were sent Wednesday to gas stations on major turnpikes.

"With mass transit still hobbled and power still out in many parts of the New York City, Westchester and Long Island, gasoline is critical to the health and well-being of those impacted by the storm, so many of who are now dependent on generators," Schumer said. "The port is open, the backlogged barges can begin to dock and gas and will begin to flow into New York again."

The Coast Guard said the port is now open to all tug and barge traffic carrying petroleum products. The Hudson River, used by oil barges to get to the Port of Albany for distribution throughout the Northeast, is also open. Shipments will also be made to Long Island Sound, also hit hard by Sandy.

Schumer said he spoke with the Coast Guard on Wednesday, and the Coast Guard began the reopening process shortly after noon Thursday.

The Coast Guard had shut down the port as a precaution against the superstorm.

One of the busiest ports in the world, the Port of New York and New Jersey receives 900,000 barrels of petroleum on most days.

Schumer said none of the piers in the Port are open yet, so fuel is being unloaded to tugs and barges that will then transport the product. The first anchorage opened at 7 a.m. and the second at noon.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.