New York — Navigational clearance at the Bayonne Bridge for the world's largest container ships under the Port Authority's ambitious "Raise the Roadway" project is now expected in late 2017, according to the agency's revised timetable for the complex undertaking. Project completion is expected in mid-2019, potentially resulting in an increase in total project costs of approximately 15 percent.
The $1.3 billion initiative is progressing with the innovative engineering feat of raising the Bayonne Bridge's existing 151-foot roadway to 215 feet, the same height as the nearby Verrazano-Narrows Bridge under which container ships also pass en route to Port Newark/Elizabeth and Howland Hook, while maintaining vehicular traffic flow. The project is under construction by the joint venture of Skanska Koch/Kiewit Infrastructure Co. (JV).
The project also will provide drivers with a modern roadway with safer, wider 12-foot lanes, new shoulders, a median divider and a 12-foot bike and pedestrian walkway. When complete, the higher bridge elevation is expected to reduce noise and traffic in nearby residential communities, compared with the existing bridge.
The "Raise the Roadway" project is the first time engineers are constructing a bridge roadway deck above the existing roadway, while ensuring limited disruption to traffic on the lower deck. Given the Bayonne Bridge's architectural significance, the project will maintain the integrity of the original historic design that made the 84-year-old span a civil engineering landmark.
"The Bayonne Bridge's 'Raise the Roadway' project is one of the most innovative and challenging projects the Port Authority has ever undertaken, and will help maintain our position as the East Coast's premier port for international trade," said Executive Director Pat Foye. "Although a number of challenges have impacted the project's timetable, we continue to monitor the Skanska JV's construction progress and, together with Skanska JV, anticipate completion within the schedule announced today."
Michael Cobelli, President & CEO of Skanska Civil Inc., said, "We are confident that we will complete the Bayonne Bridge's 'Raise the Roadway' project within the revised timetable. This has been a challenging project, but we have committed the resources to complete it successfully, with full awareness of how vitally important it is for the regional economy."
Numerous challenges have necessitated the push-back of the construction schedule. These factors include: the harsh winter of 2014-2015; changes in project staging to address community concerns and reduce construction impacts overnight; modifications to the existing steel arch to ensure safety and allow traffic to continue during construction; as well as complicated steel reinforcement activities that required additional repairs and modifications.
Currently, the construction on the "Raise the Roadway" project is almost 50 percent complete, with $380 million worth of construction in place. The northbound roadway foundations are 100-percent complete. The New York and New Jersey abutments are 95-percent complete and the installation of pier segments is 50-percent complete. For the arch and structural steel work, steel fabrication is 90-percent complete and the New York and New Jersey towers are 85-percent complete, while the steel strengthening effort is 55-percent complete. Installation of the new suspender and deck system is to begin after substantial completion of the arch steel strengthening.