Gov. Chris Christie visited Maher Terminals on Tuesday, May 2, to announce a milestone in the raising of the Bayonne Bridge. — Courtesy: Tim Larsen/Governor’s Office
By Joshua Burd
Supersized cargo ships will be able to pass under a newly raised Bayonne Bridge in order to reach Port Newark-Elizabeth as soon as June 30, marking a milestone in a $1.6 billion infrastructure project seen as critical to the state’s industrial real estate market.
Gov. Chris Christie announced Tuesday that the bridge’s lower roadway will be removed by the end of next month, a step that he said comes six months ahead of schedule. The historic span will have a clearance of 215 feet, up more than 60 feet from when the project began construction some four years ago.
The complex engineering project is several years in the making and tied to a widening project that would allow the Panama Canal to accommodate even larger cargo vessels. When it became clear that those ships would not fit under the Bayonne Bridge and would not be able to reach the state’s port terminals, officials with the state and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey began to craft a solution that involved building a higher roadway within the arches of the bridge.
The new elevated roadway opened in February. The project also includes improvements such as wider roadways for drivers, and while the entire project won’t be completed until 2019, the outgoing governor was eager to celebrate the completion of the main phase.
“This project is going to bolster the reputation of an already great port, and one that does as much or more business than almost any other Port in the world, and we are proud of the people who work here more than anything else,” Christie said during a news conference at the Maher Terminals facility in Elizabeth. “Our job is to provide them with as good an infrastructure as we can so they can bring their professionalism to their job every day, and that’s why I’m so proud to have partnered with the (International Longshoremen’s Association) on this project as well.”
New Jersey’s industrial market is already booming and the Port of New York and New Jersey recently marked a record year in cargo volume, but commercial real estate leaders were among the staunchest advocates for the massive infrastructure project. Christie said allowing the larger vessels to reach the state’s port terminals will ensure that this remains one of the busiest ports in the country.
“Together, we have a great group here that is running one of the best ports in America and now they do not have to worry about infrastructure failures by the state of New Jersey, the state of New York or the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey preventing them from having their businesses continue to grow and have them continue to be able to support their families,” Christie said. “And so this a project that I’ve been working on for over seven years and the fact that on June 30 it will finally be ready to do what we need to do, which is let those great ships come in here and unload their goods right here in New Jersey is something that is going to be great for generations to come in our state.”