WATCH: The New Bayonne Bridge is Now Open
The new Bayonne Bridge, linking New York’s Staten Island to New Jersey, recently opened to traffic.
It’s one step toward allowing the major terminals of the port of New York and New Jersey, located in Newark and Elizabeth, to handle the new class of mega containerships. The bridge is being raised from 151 feet above the water to 215 feet, to allow bigger ships to pass under it.
Last summer, the port welcomed the MOL Benefactor, a 10,000-TEU vessel that had transited the new expanded locks of the Panama Canal. The call of the largest container ship ever to call on the port was symbolic of the ability of east coast ports to welcome larger ships from Asia thanks to the newly-inaugurated waterway in Central America.
But for the port of New York and New Jersey, the visit also pointed up a weakness in the ports capabilities. The Benefactor called at the GCT Bayonne terminal and did not have to navigate under the Bayonne Bridge to get there. The main container terminals in Newark and Elizabeth are still locked out of handling vessels of that size. The average ship that calls at those New Jersey ports are in the 5,000-TEU range.
It’s also worth noting that a 10,000-TEU vessel isn’t all that big by today’s standards. A 14,000-TEU ship recently called at Israel’s port in Haifa and 18,000-TEU vessels regularly ply the trades between Asia and Northern Europe these days.
In any event, the raising of the Bayonne Bridge will allow the larger ships to reach Newark and Elizabeth. But the project is far from done. The new higher roadway has opened but the older roadbed must still be torn down. The project has suffered from periodic delays to date. The current estimated completion date is sometime in 2019.