By Christie Duffy
The Port Authority is raising the Bayonne Bridge so larger container ships can pass beneath it. But residents who live nearby say the vibrations from the heavy machinery are causing damage to their homes.
“The vibrations are so bad, they compare it to living through an earthquake almost every day. And that has caused cracks in their walls, in their door frames. Some people’s concrete steps outside have cracked,” said Bayonne resident Tracy Fiuza.
I met this resident at her place of work, where she showed me two Ziploc bags filled with large paint chips, collected from her yard. She says they fell from the bridge, and she’s concerned about there being lead in them. She’s having her daughter tested this week.
“We can monitor it then if my daughter should become sick from the air quality or the lead paint or anything else that might be coming off that bridge,” Fiuza said.
Other neighbors say the project is also dropping dust on the neighborhood.
About 100 homes close to the construction have received offers up to $10,000 from the Port Authority, but there’s a catch, say residents and the mayor.
“To get this money, you have to sign a release form that makes you sign away your rights. You then agree to never sue for any further damage to your home. And you also give up your right to complain about noise or dust,” Fiuza said. When asked if she will do that, she replied, “Absolutely not.”
The mayor of Bayonne sent letters warning of the clause.
But the Port Authority denies that the contract is a waiver, saying it is to ensure the money will be used for windows and nothing else.
In a statement, the Port Authority states they’ve “proactively implemented a comprehensive noise mitigation policy for the Bayonne Bridge construction program that follows all city noise codes. The policy includes an independent, third party noise monitoring program [and] if a noise exceedance is noted, the noise control officer immediately notifies the construction manager and work is stopped.”
“In addition, residents will have the option to stay at a local hotel when construction activity is near their residence,” said the statement.
The Port Authority says that work will move along the bridge, so residents in this neighborhood won’t be affected for the whole four-year span of the project.
Work is estimated to last in this section for another six weeks.
A 24-hour hotline is also available to residents for any noise complaints — 855-265-5482. And walk-in offices are being set up on both sides of the bridge.