David Samson,Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for the decision to raise the Bayonne Bridge

David Samson

The Port of  New York and New Jersey is one of New Jersey’s major, but often overlooked, economic engines.  The Port generates more than 269,900 port related jobs and nearly $6 billion in economic activity.  Goods entering the Port are within a day’s drive of 30% of the US population. In 2010 the Port’s container volume rose to 5.3 million container units, a nearly 16% increase over the previous year. The Port and its activities are critical to New Jersey’s prosperity.

When the Bayonne Bridge was completed in 1931 it was the longest steel arch bridge in the world.  It is an engineering and historic landmark.  At the time it was built ships could easily pass under its 151 foot high span. But as container ships have increased in size the bridge has become an impediment for the larger ships to access to the Port.  The larger ships are forced to wait for favorable tides to pass under the bridge or worse move to other ports. In December of 2010, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey made the decision to “Raise the Roadway” increasing the height of the bridge to 215 feet. This bold decision will preserve the Port’s competitive edge by allowing larger and more efficient ships to easily enter the Port.

David Samson, Chairman of the PANYNJ said that the PANYNJ explored every conceivable option to making the Port more accessible to the larger ships. The Port Authority carefully evaluated the options to determine the option that was most effective financially, environmentally and timely.

Bayonne Bridge

They also considered the impacts the options would have on traffic and the communities the bridge serves. Raising the bridge ranked the highest with all the criteria.  The PANYNJ will take special care to modernize the road surface while preserving the bridge’s historic character. Chairman Samson noted that raising the bridge was only one tool the PANYNJ is using to help stimulate the economy and make the Port more efficient. Raising the bridge will optimize the more than $2 billion invested in the Port by the PANYNJ and the federal government in deeper channels and berths, lower shipping costs for businesses that use the port, and reduce truck vehicle miles traveled. Chairman Samson credited Governor Christie with focusing on this project to get a decision.  Chairman Samson is tasked with the difficult job of completing the renovation on time and on budget.PlanSmart NJ has long recognized the important role the port plays in New Jersey’s economy.  We applaud the PANYNJ’s decision to invest in New Jersey’s infrastructure to maintain our competitiveness in the national and global markets.

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