Bayonne Bridge Project Backs Up Sewage in Residents’ Basements

By Christie Duffy

Cleanup crews haul fans out of a basement in Bayonne.

“Two and a half feet of water damaged the hot water heaters, the boilers, all of our belongings. Not to mention the stress and inconvenience this put on our family,” said Kevin Hennings.

A sewage backup next to the Port Authority’s Bayonne Bridge project left residents with a mess, filling a dumpster to the brim with neighbors’ discarded belongings.

At least seven basements were filled with sewage over the weekend. The Hennings had to cancel their getaway to the Poconos, instead spending time trying to salvage irreplaceable belongings.

“Photos, old pictures, paintings,” Hennings said.

“Stuff over here you can see all the boxes and things. We have like albums,” said Kim Hennings.

Everything at the center of the room must be thrown away. The Hennings lost antiques, Christmas decorations, furniture and clothing. They estimate their losses at $20,000. They feel the cleanup is taking too long.

“The restoration company, up to this point has done absolutely nothing for us,” Kevin Hennings said.

Other residents of this Bayonne neighborhood have also complained about cracks in their walls from vibrating heavy machinery, dust and falling paint chips, which some are concerned may carry lead.

Port Authority employees on site today refused to talk to us. This is the second sewage backup caused by the bridge project.

“After the last flood, they told us this was never gonna happen again. That was about six to seven months ago. Here we are in the same situation we were before,” Kevin Hennings said.

Residents are saying that between this backup and the last one, they’ve filled half a dozen dumpsters to the brim.

The first break was caused by a direct cut into the sewer line. The Port Authority says they’ve changed their workflow to ensure that doesn’t happen again.

A spokesman says while they’re working to determine the exact cause for the sewer blockage that led to this backup, they are taking full responsibility, paying for the cleanup and filing insurance claims on residents’ behalf.

“They sent a camera. They said they sent a camera into the sewer and saw that the sewer line was collapsed. And that’s obviously why the PA is here now. And they’re, you know, they are trying to take care of the situation,” Kevin Hennings said.

The broken sewer line is being bypassed with a pump until it can be fixed.