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NJ Bridge-Raising Timeline Extended

Monday, October 12, 2015

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Larger containment ships will have to wait longer to navigate the Newark Bay now that construction plans to “Raise the Roadway” of the Bayonne Bridge have been pushed back more than a year.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced Oct. 1 that the $1.3 billion project would not be completed until late 2017. Original estimates, according to media reports, put the completion date in 2016.

The Port Authority said a number of challenges led to the need to push back project completion. In addition to project changes to address community concerns, modifications to the existing arch to ensure the safety of motorists travelling under the new bridge deck and “complicated” steel reinforcement issues that called for additional modifications, the harsh winter of 2014-2015 was a major issue, the agency said.

Discouraged Reactions

The news did not sit well with shipping companies and local officials who had been counting on the bridge being able to accommodate larger ships near the same time as the expended completion of the widening of the Panama Canal.

Port Authority of NY & NJ

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said the $1.3 billion Bayonne Bridge project would not be completed until late 2017. Original estimates put the completion date in 2016.

“Frankly, this came out of the blue,” Marc Bourdon, president for North America for French shipping line CMA CGM SA, told The Wall Street Journal.

“We were expecting this to happen by the end of next year. Clearly it impacts the type of vessel size that can be deployed, and we need to re-look at how this is going to affect our plans for 2016.”

According to the daily business newspaper, the largest ships that can dock at the terminals in Newark, NJ, and Elizabeth, NJ, can carry between 8,500 to 9,000 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs), which is a common measurement of shipping container capacity.

The construction project will raise the deck of the bridge from 151 feet high to 215 feet high. That will allow ships with as many as 12,000 TEUs to dock at New Jersey terminals, the WSJ said.

The mayor of Bayonne said the delay is “just the latest chapter of the saga we have endured.

“This project was sold to the residents as a benefit for the city by the prior administration,” Mayor Jimmy Davis told NJ Advance Media. “Instead, it has been an ongoing struggle with the Port Authority to try to protect the residents of Bayonne.”

Regardless, the mayor told the news organization that he remains “fully committed to doing all that we can for the residents most affected by this project.”

Nearly Half-Done

Port Authority officials said in their statement that the project already is about 50 percent complete. They also said the project is exceptionally challenging, which has led to some of the delays.

“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 Port Authority 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.”

By Jim.henderson / Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

In addition to raising the road on the 84-year-old bridge, the project will provide drivers with a safer, more modern road, wider lanes, new shoulder, a median divider and a pedestrian/bike walkway.

Michael Cobelli, President & CEO of Skanska Civil Inc.—which, along with Kiewit Infrastructure Co., is part of the joint venture handling the project—said he was confident the JV will be able to complete the project within the revised guideline.

Scope of the Project

In a report in May about the construction project, the project manager had said key milestones already had been reached.

“The significance of getting this first span in place is that it represents many, many months of construction tasks, engineering tasks, things that had to be worked out in the field,” Dennis Stabile, the project manager for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, told NJ Advance Media.

“We nailed down the sequence of how things had to be done, the best way to do it. Now we feel we can do it at a quicker pace.”

At the time, the media outlet reported that 26 sections of elevated road weighing thousands of tons each would be linked end-to-end from the approach ramps between the earthen embankments and points on the steel arch.

Once those sections are completed, work crews should be able to link the approaches with the partially completed main span, Stabile said.

The media outlet said the first approach section on the New Jersey side is bigger than most bridges at 274 feet long by 64 feet wide, 14 feet high, and weighing 2,700 tons. It’s made of 27 10-foot segments weighing 100 tons each that were shipped from Bayshore Conrete in Cape Charles, VA. That company, the media outlet said, was opened to make sections of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Each of the sections are being assembled by 500-foot-long cranes that must be moved along the path of the approach ramps they’ve just assembled about every three segments to endure the weight. NJ Advance Media said this is happening at both ends of the bridge at the same time, with each gradually working their way toward the arch and each other.

‘Priority’ Project

According to The Wall Street Journal, the bridge has been a priority project of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who also is a Republican presidential candidate for the upcoming election in 2016. In 2012, the WSJ said, the Obama administration fast-tracked the project under the “We Can’t Wait” federal initiative to Christie’s applause.

At the time, Christie reportedly said, the bridge project would create thousands of jobs and “secure the Port of New York and New Jersey’s role as the premier port of the east coast and as a powerful engine of our state and regional economies.”

In addition to raising the road on the 84-year-old bridge—which the Port Authority characterized as “civil engineering landmark” when it was built—the construction project will provide drivers with a safer, more modern road. It will add 12-foot lanes; new shoulders; a median divider; and a 12-foot bike and pedestrian walkway.

When complete, the bridge elevation also is expected to reduce noise and traffic in nearby residential communities, the statement said.

Port Authority officials said the entire project will be completed in 2019.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Government; Government contracts; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; North America; Port Authority of New Jersey; Port Authority of New York; Ports; Program/Project Management; Roads/Highways; Shipyards

Comment from Tony Rangus, (10/12/2015, 10:52 AM)

Is this an instance where Skanska Civil Inc. and Kiewit Infrastructure Co., are increasing their bottom line?

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