Welcome to New Jersey: Breaking the Bridge Barrier to Allow Big Ships

Fall 2013
Raising the roadway of the Bayonne Bridge will enable large container ships to reach marine terminals west of the bridge in both New Jersey and New York. Wider lanes and a bikeway and walkway will make the bridge safer for drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. The new roadway design also allows for future transit service.

Following a finding of “no significant impact” by the U.S. Coast Guard in April 2013, a construction permit for the raising of the Bayonne Bridge roadway finally was issued on May 23 and welcomed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at a press briefing in June attended by hundreds of cheering construction workers. (Many observers thought that the project had been approved long ago, and it was already under construction.) The “Raise the Roadway” project should begin before the end of the year, according to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. The Port Authority and the U.S. Coast Guard (the federal coordinating agency) are coordinating the permitting process with other federal agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security. This coordination is expected to reduce the overall permit decision-making and review timelines by several months.

Today, the 151-foot air draft restriction beneath the Bayonne Bridge is an obstacle for larger ships doing business with marine terminals west of the bridge, at Port Newark and the Elizabeth Port Authority Marine Terminals in New Jersey, and at Howland Hook on Staten Island in New York. The clearance height of the bridge will be raised to 215 feet and should be completed in fall 2015.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ September 2009 Bayonne Bridge Air Draft Analysis indicated that raising the bridge would produce an estimated $3.3 billion national benefit, which is independent of (that is, above and beyond) the benefits that will result from the completion of a $1.6 million harbor deepening project already underway, according to the Port Authority. For the past nine years, the Corps of Engineers, in partnership with the Port Authority, has been dredging 38 miles of federal navigation channels in New York Harbor from an average depth of 40 feet to 50 feet. The final section of the $1.6 billion project — the deepening of the Arthur Kill Channel — is now underway and is expected to be completed in 2014.

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