On Nov. 15 New York and New Jersey Port Authority officials offered a first look at the Bayonne Bridge elevated roadway, which connects Bayonne, N.J. with Staten Island, ABC News reports. The elevated roadway is part of a $1.3 billion project to allow bigger cargo ships to enter New York City-area ports.
Currently, the bridge has only 151 feet of clearance at its highest point, which has limited the size of the vessels that can pass underneath it on their way to Newark and Elizabeth ports. The Port Authority’s solution was to build another roadway on top of the existing one that would add 60 feet of additional clearance, bringing the total clearance under the bridge to 211 feet. At the same time, they will keep the lower roadway open to traffic until construction is complete, at which time the old bridge deck will be removed.
“We have to maintain our competitive status,” said Steven Plate, the Port Authority’s chief of major capital projects, according to ABC News. “Right now we can push through ships as large as 7,000 containers, but we can grow that to 14,000 containers on one ship.”
Construction on the elevated roadwqay began in 2013. Port Authority officials hoped it would be ready for larger ships by late 2016, but weather and structural problems with the steel for the bridge caused construction delays. A $2.1 billion project has already deepened navigation channels in New York harbor in preparation for larger ships.
Plate told reporters that larger ships will be able to pass under the bridge by late 2017. Vehicles will begin using the upper roadway’s northbound lanes by mid-2017, and the entire project is expected to be completed by mid-2019.
Cedrick Fulton, the Port Authority’s head of bridges, tunnels and terminals, told the news agency that the new roadway will feature wider lanes and a median, and will be the first of the agency’s bridges to use cashless tolling.