The Coast Guard yesterday approved plans for the $1.3 billion project to raise the roadway of the Bayonne Bridge, which currently blocks access by some large ships to New York Harbor’s four big container terminals in New Jersey and on Staten Island.
The approval was the last needed for the work to begin. The Coast Guard completed its environmental review of the project on May 3, and officials said the permit for the work could be issued next week.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will raise the bridge's roadway by 64 feet in order to accommodate the larger post-Panamax container ships that will be able to pass through the expanded Panama Canal by the second half of 2015.
At the same time, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is deepening the harbor to 50 feet, a project that should be completed by 2014.
The two projects will enable the port to remain competitive with other East Coast ports, such as Norfolk and Baltimore, which already have 50-foot harbors.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey awarded a $743.3 million contract in April to raise the bridge and clear an impediment to large ships seeking to call at port terminals.
A joint venture of Skanska Koch Inc. and Kiewit Infrastructure won the contract to raise the bridge’s deck. The entire project will cost $1.29 billion.
Support for the project has bridged traditional business and political divides, with a broad coalition that included the shipping and related industries, longshoremen and laborers unions, and elected officials in New York and New Jersey.