By Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor
With that vote, the Port Authority Board of Commissioners gave the green light to move forward with what they describe as an historic bridge construction program that will improve three bridges that connect New Jersey and New York — the Goethals, Bayonne and Outerbridge Crossing.
“These projects will create employment, new jobs in and of themselves,” said PANYNJ chairman David Samson. “But more importantly, they allow the Port Authority, our ports in particular, to remain competitive and increase the efficiency of moving goods across the rivers.”
Among the two large-scale projects approved is a plan to replace the Goethals Bridge. It’s the first time in more than 80 years the bi-state agency will build a new span which will feature wider travel lanes to help ease congestion. It’s being paid for through a public private partnership.
“By minimizing public investment and minimizing the amount of public Port Authority debt capacity that’s used, [it] maximizes the amount that we have to spend on other transactions,” explained Patrick Foye, PANYNJ Executive Director.
Another ambitious project calls for raising the Bayonne Bridge. Engineers will build the bridge’s roadbed above the existing one, while traffic continues on the deck below. Once completed, the higher span will allow larger container ships to pass beneath, which is essential to help this region remain competitive, say officials and Joseph Curto, president of NY Shipping Association.
“The larger, more modern post-Panamas ships represent a more efficient and an environmentally friendly way to move cargo along the supply chain from the point of origin to the point of destination,” said Curto.
Resurfacing of the Outerbridge Crossing is expected to avoid costly emergency repairs. All three projects will create thousands of jobs.
Construction on all three projects is expected to begin this year. Resurfacing of the Outerbridge Crossing will take up to 30 months. Most of the work on the Bayonne Bridge should be completed by 2015, and the new Goethals span is expected to open to traffic in 2016.