APRIL 25, 2013 — The Board of Commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey yesterday awarded a $743.3 million contract to Skanska Koch, Inc. / Kiewit Infrastructure Co. (JV) team as part of a $1.29 billion program to increase the navigational clearance of the Bayonne Bridge.
The widening of the Panama Canal, scheduled for completion in 2015, will result in larger, more modern ships calling on the Port. Raising the roadway of the 81-year-old Bayonne Bridge's main deck by 64 feet will allow post-Panamax ships to pass under the structure to access port terminals in New York and New Jersey. The project is critical to maintaining and enhancing the competitiveness of the New York and New Jersey ports.
The project will provide drivers with a new, modern roadway with safer 12-foot lanes, shoulders, a median divider and a 12-foot bike and pedestrian walkway. It also will provide the capability for future mass transit options across the span.
The Bayonne Bridge project is the first time in agency history that engineers will construct a bridge roadway deck above the existing roadway, while traffic continues to flow on the deck below. Work will start later this year with deck removal scheduled for late 2015. One lane of traffic will operate in each direction throughout the life of the project, with overnight and limited weekend closures.
The Bayonne Bridge Raise the Roadway plan is included in President Obama's 2012 We Can't Wait Initiative of expedited infrastructure projects. The Port Authority was among the first in the country to apply for the program in March of 2012. The project will create more than 2,500 construction jobs for the region, $380 million in wages and more than $1.6 billion in economic activity. Skanska Koch / Kiewit has committed to focusing on employing local, small and minority- and women-owned businesses in all areas of the project.
"The Board's approval of the Bayonne Bridge project is a critical step toward preserving the Port of New York and New Jersey's standing as the premier hub port and gateway for the East Coast," said Port Authority Chairman David Samson. "This investment of $1.29 billion to raise the roadway is a clear example of the agency's strong commitment to improve its aging facilities and continue to serve as the key economic engine in the region."
"With today's announcement, it is clear that the Port Authority is focused on fulfilling its mission-centric work of rebuilding and maintaining critical transportation infrastructure in the New York and New Jersey region," said Port Authority Vice-Chair Scott Rechler. "Our bridge revitalization program will boost the economy, create jobs, dramatically improve our transportation infrastructure and benefit those who live and work in the bistate region."
The Port Authority anticipates work beginning later this year on the Bayonne Bridge navigational clearance program, pending completion of the environmental review and permitting process. The Port Authority's short animation video details how engineers plan to raise the roadway of the Bayonne Bridge.
The endeavor has benefitted from the strong support of elected officials in New York and New Jersey including New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, New Jersey Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez and New Jersey Congressman Albio Sires. The project also has the backing of labor unions, the shipping industry and port tenants.
The project will directly benefit ports in both New York and New Jersey, including Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal and New York Container Terminal.
"Investing in critical public infrastructure is the key to a successful long-term economy," said Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. "The Port Authority's plan to raise the navigational clearance of the Bayonne Bridge will provide thousands of men and women throughout the region with high paying jobs, while also serving to improve the region's transportation infrastructure and the long-term competitiveness of our ports."
"This investment represents continued improvement of the economy in our region and our state," said William T. Mullen, president of the New Jersey State Building and Construction Trades Council. "These projects promise enhanced revenues and tens of thousands of jobs, both crucial to our ongoing recovery. The Port Authority continues to build a future for so many working men and women."
"The Port Authority's Bayonne Bridge and Goethals Bridge projects are smart investments," said Thomas Bracken, president and CEO, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. "In the short term, the projects put thousands of people to work. In the longer term, the projects will allow an entire new generation of large container ships to access our port, keeping it vibrant, bringing new business to the state, and creating thousands more jobs."
In other actions taken by the Board yesterday, the Commissioners voted to authorize a $1.5 billion public-private partnership to NYNJ Link Partnership to build a new Goethals Bridge to replace the current span and a $15.3 million contract to Crisdel Group to resurface the Outerbridge Crossing. Both projects are part of the agency's bridge revitalization program.
Along with the three projects approved yesterdayday as part of the Port Authority's bridge revitalization program, work is expected to begin in 2014 on the replacement of the George Washington Bridge suspender ropes. It will be the first time in the bridge's history that the ropes will be replaced. The project will create thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity for the region.