If you live on or near Staten Island, you’ve probably heard something about work being done to raise the Bayonne Bridge. In fact, the aim of the construction is to increase the clearance under the bridge from 151 feet to 215, a difference of 64 feet. While it may seem like a daunting project to undertake, it will provide many benefits to area residents and the local economy once it’s completed.
Why it’s Happening
The reason this bridge work is being done is to make it possible for larger ships to pass through on their way to ports in Newark and Elizabeth, NJ and Howland Hook, NY. The increase in the size of ships using these channels is a result of a widening of the Panama Canal that will be completed in 2014. The city is also undertaking a massive harbor deepening project designed to add 50 feet of clearance under the water to accommodate these larger ships.
Because these ports are so vital to the local economy, it’s important that the new, larger ships can reach them. Without the higher clearance underneath the Bayonne Bridge, these ports would be cut off from a large chunk of shipping traffic and be in danger of becoming obsolete. The actual project itself is also providing a benefit to the area right now by generating more than 6,000 jobs directly related to the construction of the new roadway.
The introduction of larger ships also provides some economic benefits that will reach every consumer in the region. Because they can carry so much more cargo at once, the cost of shipping (and its economic impact) is significantly reduced, and that will be reflected in prices of all kinds of goods on store shelves.
Of course, in the process of raising the bridge, the roadway will essentially be built again. And that means a new median, revamped toll plaza, wider lanes and increased shoulder width, all of which makes it safer and more enjoyable to drive across the bridge. A new bikeway and a pedestrian walkway will also be installed, making it easier than ever to get from Bayonne to Staten Island and back again.