NY/NJ Port Authority Board approves $10 million planning authorization to tackle Bayonne Bridge navigation issues

The Port Authority Board of Commissioners authorized a planning analysis to help the agency determine the best options to address navigational issues posed by new larger ships coming in 2014 that may have difficulty fitting under the Bayonne Bridge.

The Board authorized up to $10 million for planning and engineering services to develop options to deal with the bridge’s low clearance, which may prevent new larger ships from passing under it to reach the Port of New York and New Jersey’s container terminals west of the bridge. The planning and engineering efforts will take approximately one to 1½ years.

Much larger containerships are expected to call on the bi-state port after the Panama Canal is expanded in 2014, and the bridge’s current clearance may limit some of these ships from being able to call on port terminals.

The Port Authority’s evaluation will establish conceptual cost estimates and schedules for each option and will undertake a regional cost-benefit analysis of the alternatives.

The planning efforts will supplement a Port Authority-commissioned study by the Army Corps of Engineers and the US Coast Guard that is looking at the impacts of the bridge’s 151-foot clearance on future port trade and the national economic development benefit that would accrue by eliminating the Bayonne Bridge’s navigational obstruction.  Both the Army Corps’ work and Port Authority planning efforts will provide a clearer picture of how the height restriction should be addressed.

Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, “Our cargo business supports thousands of jobs and billions in regional economic activity, and must be protected at all costs.  This initial investment will explore options to remove the shipping impediment and help preserve our port’s standing in the years ahead.”

Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward said, “Our cargo business is critical to the region’s economic future.  We must carefully explore all options and find the best, most cost-effective way to address this challenge.”

Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Susan Bass Levin said, “Taking this step sends a clear message that The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is continuing to plan for the region’s future.”