Thursday, October 20, 2011

Port Authority Commits To Raising Bayonne Bridge By 2016

These are busy and tough times for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Chris Ward, the head of the agency is being forced out to make way for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's choice, Patrick Foye, the agency has taken serious flack for its massive fare and toll hikes, and claims that it misspent money on the rebuilding at Ground Zero that has left its capital funds depleted and key infrastructure projects go undone.

One of the projects that has to get done is raising the height of the Bayonne Bridge. The bridge, which straddles the Kill Van Kull between Staten Island New York and New Jersey is an engineering masterpiece and was at one time the longest arch bridge in the world. However, it's height is a major problem considering that new super Panamax shipping is expected in the next few years as the Panama Canal expansion is completed in 2014 means that a new generation of ships wont be able to pass underneath and access the area's container shipping ports for at least two years.

Thus, it's critical that the height of the bridge roadway be raised to allow for the new class of shipping. The Port Authority is now saying that the bridge will be raised by 2016. Setting a date is a good start, but that means that other ports along the northeast will be able to benefit from shipping until the project is completed.

The project would require the roadway be raised within the arch itself, and approaches adjusted accordingly.

The Port Authority can't delay this project and in reality, it should be expediting the project to complete it by 2014 because of the importance to the local economy. Tens of thousands of jobs are in the balance here, and delays will put those jobs at risk.

UPDATE: has an overview of the process to raise the road deck to the 215 foot level above the water. The Port Authority has also put together a video.

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