Coast Guard Approves 'Raise the Roadway' Plan

Raising the deck of the 82-year-old Bayonne Bridge by 64 feet will allow the largest container ships to reach New Jersey ports after traversing the expanded Panama Canal.

A proposed project to raise the deck of the Bayonne Bridge by 64 feet so the newest cargo container ships can reach New Jersey's port terminals in Newark and Elizabeth has won U.S. Coast Guard approval, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., announced at a May 15 news conference. Ports up and down the East Coast are preparing for larger ships that will arrive beginning in 2015 when the Panama Canal expansion is completed.

This image shows the bridge deck at its current height of 151 feet. (Port Authority of New York & New Jersey photo)The Bayonne Bridge spans the Kill Van Kill and connects Bayonne, N.J., with Staten Island, N.Y. It was completed in 1931 and still ranks as the fourth-longest steel arch bridge in the world, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the ports. The "Raise the Roadway" project needed Coast Guard approval for the environmental impact in order for the project to go forward.

The bridge's deck is now 151 feet above the water but will be 215 feet above it when the work is completed.

"The U.S. Coast Guard's decision literally clears the way for this $1.3 billion 'Raise the Roadway' project to deliver dividends to New Jersey's economy for decades to come,"’ said Christie. "New Jersey's bipartisan efforts to fast-track this project shows the value of cooperation to help our state citizens' prosper economically."

"New Jersey needs this project to ensure the port remains competitive in the global economy throughout the 21st century,"’ said Menendez. "It is gratifying that everyone worked together quickly and effectively to ensure the economic engine of the region remains strong."

According to the port authority, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' September 2009 Bayonne Bridge Air Draft Analysis concluded raising the bridge will produce an estimated $3.3 billion national benefit. The port authority's board of commissioners agreed in October 2010 to provide up to $1 billion to help finance the reconstruction.

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