Yesterday, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced its multi-billion dollar plan to restore or replace three bridges that link North Jersey to Staten Island — Goethals Bridge, Outerbridge Crossing Bridge, and Bayonne Bridge. Martin Robins is a former executive director of NJ Transit and is the founding director of the Alan Voorhees Transportation Center. Robins told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that the project is way overdue, considering the structural defects and wear and tear on all three bridges.
Of the three plans, Robins said the one that stands out for him is the plan to replace the Goethals Bridge. A myriad of ideas and possibilities had been discussed over the years to address the deficiencies of the Goethals Bridge.
“There was one idea to build a second bridge and turn the existing structure into one way,” he cited as an example. “But over the years, that was rejected. I guess the bridge had a number of deficiencies in structure, or whatever, and the decision was to build a whole new bridge.”
Whereas the heavily-used Goethals Bridge is primarily a scary experience for motorists, Robins said the Bayonne Bridge is relatively lightly-used, but is located at a critical point across the Kill van Kull waterway.
“It extends between New York Harbor and Port Newark and Port Elizabeth docks and that is a really big problem. Container ships are being built larger and larger … and they require a greater draft than the Bayonne Bridge can now provide,” explained Robins.
The third bridge named in the large-scale project is the Outerbridge Crossing. Although heavily-used, the bridge will be improved on a much lesser scale in comparison to the other two, and involves the construction of a new deck. Robins said improvements will make the trip across that bridge much easier and smoother.
“The ruts and potholes and other problems will be sealed up … everybody enjoys driving over a smooth surface, so that would be a positive.”
Martins said one of the reasons why these projects languished for so long is due to the lack of star appeal of the bridges.
“They aren’t center stage and so they don’t answer all the problems at all but they were also neglected. The Bayonne Bridge being a lightly-used bridge only got into the act, so to speak, because of this commercial shipping problem and that is important and that can’t be overlooked. It’s very important that Port Authority responded relatively quickly to deal with that issue and godspeed to that project.”