Date: Jul 18, 2012
Press Release Number: 96-2012
Port Authority Cuts Six Months off Initial Bridge Construction Schedule; Ensures Completion in Time for Fully Operational and Widened Panama Canal
The Port Authority today announced that it will finish the deck removal portion of the Raise the Roadway project at the Bayonne Bridge six months ahead of schedule, ensuring completion of this important project in advance of commercial operations at the widened Panama Canal. The deck removal will provide critical navigational clearance for larger post-Panamax ships to access port terminals in New York and New Jersey when the Panama Canal opens.
Construction of the Port Authority project is being expedited under the leadership of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Work will commence in mid-2013 when crews begin to build a new elevated roadway 64 feet above the existing deck. Once completed, the Bayonne Bridge roadway will be 215 feet above the Kill Van Kull waterway, allowing larger cargo ships to easily pass beneath the structure. The Port Authority is expediting the work to coincide with when the widening of the Panama Canal is completed and fully operational. The Port Authority anticipates deck removal to be completed by the Fall of 2015. The original project timeline called for completion of deck removal in mid 2016.
The Panama Canal Authority recently announced that construction delays will push completion of the Canal project into 2015. In an interview on June 29 with the Panamanian television station Telemetro, Alberto Alemán Zubieta, the administrator of the Panama Canal, noted that following completion of construction there would be up to eight months of testing and trials before the Canal will be fully operational.
“Raising the roadway on the Bayonne Bridge paves the way to a brighter, competitive economic future for New Jersey and the region,” said Governor Christie. “Completing this important project ahead of schedule will ensure that our ports remain a vital link to the global economy and the destination of choice for international shippers and cargo.”
“Raising the Bayonne Bridge is critical to ensuring that our region’s ports remain competitive in the global market,” said Governor Cuomo. “The expedited construction timeline puts the Port Authority on pace to complete this major construction project ahead of schedule and positions our region’s port to receive larger post-Panamax ships when the Panama Canal is widened. In addition to securing the future of our region’s port, New York and the entire region will benefit directly from many of the 6,300 high-paying jobs created by the innovative Raise the Roadway project.”
“The Port of New York and New Jersey is our region’s economic engine. We will finish this project six months ahead of schedule,” said Port Authority Chairman David Samson.
The Bayonne Bridge project is extremely critical to maintain the Port of New York and New Jersey as the East Coast’s leading destination for international shippers. Currently, the port handles 30 percent of all goods shipped to the East Coast, and in 2011 it handled more cargo containers than its closest competitors – Savannah, Norfolk and Baltimore – combined.
The Port Authority has invested more than $2 billion over the past 10 years to build new port infrastructure, resulting in the largest rail capacity of any East Coast port. To attract international shippers, the Port of New York and New Jersey has the most rail capacity of any East Coast port. It also has the most terminal capacity and berth capacity, the largest labor force and the largest trucking fleet on the East Coast. In addition, the port has more shipping services to more destinations than any port on the East Coast, and goods shipped to the port can reach more than 100 million customers in 24 hours, a feat no other port can match.
In 2011, the Port of New York and New Jersey set an all-time record for cargo volume, surpassing the previous record set in 2007 before the start of the global economic downturn.
However, other East Coast ports are continuing the fierce competition for port business, making the Bayonne Bridge project even more critical to maintaining the Port of New York and New Jersey’s competitive edge. Major investments are being made by other East Coast ports to attract business, including a $450 million investment by the Port of Miami to build a new tunnel connecting the port to the roadway network, and a $300 million investment by the South Carolina State Ports Authority to pay for channel deepening in the Port of Charleston.
The Bayonne Bridge construction project is expected to create more than 6,300 jobs, $380 million in wages, and $1.6 billion in economic activity. Beginning next year, bridge construction activities will provide needed, well-paying employment opportunities for a range of trades, from ironworkers to electricians, and provide significant economic benefits to local businesses and services.
“Raising the Bayonne Bridge is the most critical infrastructure project facing the Port Authority and the region,” said Chairman Samson. “That is why this project is the top priority of the Port Authority, and we are confident that when the Panama Canal opens, that first ship through the canal will then pass under the new Bayonne Bridge to call on the Port of New York and New Jersey—the premier destination of cargo on the East Coast.”
“This project is a prime example of how the Port Authority is working to cut red tape and expedite reviews that delay the delivery of important projects,” said Port Authority Vice Chairman Scott Rechler. “Every day that we can move this project forward is good for our port and good for the region.”
“We are committed to getting projects like the Bayonne Bridge to market quickly while protecting our environment at the same time,” said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye. “Raising the Roadway will allow larger container ships, burning less fuel per container and deploying the latest ballast water and other environmentally friendly technology, to enter our port. I look forward to welcoming post-Panamax ships to our shores in 2015.”
“Thanks to the hard work of Port Authority staff – and our federal, state and local partners – we will be able to Raise the Roadway ahead of the Panama Canal,” said Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni. “This critical infrastructure project will create more than 6,300 construction jobs and ensure the 279,000 jobs supported by the port will continue to flourish.”
The Port Authority has received the unanimous endorsement of the combined New York and New Jersey senate delegations for inclusion in President Obama’s March 2012 Executive Order to expedite infrastructure projects.
The United States Coast Guard, which is the lead federal agency of the Raise the Roadway project, continues to expedite the environmental review process. In addition, both the State Historic Preservation Offices in New York and New Jersey have conducted detailed and extensive reviews of architectural, archaeological and historical elements, and developed comprehensive recommendations to preserve and protect the Bayonne Bridge.
To fast track the Raise the Roadway project, the Port Authority has prequalified five world-class construction teams seeking to bid on the major public works project. The prequalified teams include: