NYNJ Port Bayonne Bridge Project Ahead of Schedule
As of June 30, the $1.6 billion raising of the Bayonne Bridge roadway will allow the world’s ultra-large, environmentally friendly container vessels to pass beneath the span, gaining access to ports in Newark and Elizabeth, in New Jersey, and Staten Island, in New York.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced that the existing lower roadway of the bridge, which had prevented larger ships from entering the East Coast’s busiest port terminals after passing through the recently widened Panama or Suez Canals will be removed six months ahead of its recently revised year-end schedule.
“The Raise the Roadway project is a true game-changer for the port, one of the state’s and this region’s most significant job creators, employing 336,000 people and generating billions of dollars in economic activity,” said Christie. “With the lifting of the bridge’s navigational restrictions, we expect these numbers to continue to grow and shipping lines to begin to send their larger ships to this port. As a result more businesses will seek to locate in the port area to create jobs, especially in the skilled trades while garnering the benefits being close to the port can bring. These businesses already generate nearly $53.5 billion in economic activity.”
The Bayonne Bridge currently has a navigational clearance of 151 feet, limiting the size of the vessels that can travel under it to 8,000 to 9,000 TEUs. The newly raised roadway will provide a clearance of 215 feet—the same as the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge—allowing ships with up to 18,000 TEUs to pass below to access terminals located in New Jersey and Staten Island. The largest ship currently able to navigate the waters below the bridge is 9,800 TEUs.
“Raise the Roadway is a visionary project, accomplishing what once seemed impossible for the long-term benefit of our regional economy,” said John Degnan, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “It began with the unprecedented accomplishment of building a new roadway through an existing bridge structure, with traffic continuing to flow on a lower roadway. Removal of the lower roadway will make it one of the most important American infrastructure projects in history to facilitate global trade.”
Larger ships will reduce operating costs for shipping lines, which can ultimately result in lower prices for consumer goods sold in the New York-New Jersey region and beyond, such as beverages, clothing, and furniture.
To the benefit of area motorists, in February, the project, achieved a new milestone with the opening of the elevated roadway through the existing arch bridge and over the original roadway, while maintaining traffic flow on the lower span. The bridge will be built to its full width by 2019 – at which point motorists will benefit from a fully modern, safer and wider roadway with four 12-foot wide lanes in each direction, outside and inside shoulders and a shared-use pedestrian and bicycle path.
Besides Raise the Roadway, the Port Authority and the federal government invested $2.1 billion in a 50-foot navigation channel deepening project at the port and the Port Authority invested $600 million for on-dock rail projects. Private sector terminal operators have also invested billions in their operations.
The Port of New York and New Jersey is the busiest port on the East Coast and the third busiest in the country after Los Angeles and Long Beach.
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