Mayor Mark A. Smith announced that representatives of the City of Bayonne, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the contracting firm of Skanska Koch/Kiewit Infrastructure Company have begun a series of meetings dealing with raising the roadway of the Bayonne Bridge.
In the first meetings held at Bayonne City Hall on July 25 and 30, the municipality, the Port Authority, and the contractors had preliminary discussions about construction, communications, scheduling, coordination, emergency management, and future meetings.
The Raise the Roadway Project will last from 2013 to 2017. The main objective of the project is raising the traffic deck by 64 feet, in order to allow large, modern ships to pass underneath in transit to Port Newark and Port Elizabeth. The project will also construct new bridge lanes, shoulders, a median divider, and a 12-ft. bike-and-pedestrian walkway. In order to lead traffic to the new deck, the contractors will construct new approaches for the bridge, which will gain new footings and piers. The new approaches will be made of pre-cast concrete. New drains and other basic civil engineering work will also be part of the construction. Thirty to forty subcontractors are expected to participate in the project. The Port Authority expects that 300 to 400 building trades people will be working on the bridge at the height of construction in 2014. Construction work on the project has begun.
The contractor will work on raising the eastern half of the deck before starting on the western side. The Port Authority expects bridge traffic to be reduced to one lane by approximately early October 2013. The eastern half of the bridge work will be completed in 2015. Then the project will shift to the western half of the bridge, continuing to 2017.
Overnight closures of the bridge will start by January 2014 or sooner. Those overnight closures will take place on weeknights. There may be some overnight closures on weekends, if needed for the construction schedule. During construction, a 25-mile-per-hour speed limit will be in effect.
No property acquisitions for the project will be necessary. In lieu of such acquisitions, the Port Authority will be using its own land to the greatest extent possible. The Port Authority has worked on logistics with the Bayonne Board of Education, White Glove Moving & Storage, and other property owners whose land adjoins the bridge corridor.
Kennedy Boulevard and Avenue A will remain open during construction. Some other streets, ramps, and underpasses will be closed as needed.
Due to construction activities on the bridge, the Juliette Street Playground will be closed temporarily for the safety of residents. Baseball fields located on Port Authority property will also be closed during construction. The Port Authority and the City of Bayonne are looking actively for temporary replacements for the playground and the ballfields. They are also seeking property that can be used temporarily for residential parking.
The Port Authority has pledged to observe all applicable noise and other regulations during construction. However, for residents who may be disturbed by construction noise, the Port Authority may be able to make hotel rooms available on a temporary basis.
All participants agreed on the importance of maintaining communications with each other and the public during the next four years. For example, whenever construction necessitates street closings or traffic restrictions, the Port Authority and the contractors will coordinate with the Bayonne Police Department and the Public Works Department. The City of Bayonne will advise the public of various impacts on traffic through the print and electronic media. For example, the bridge will have only one lane of traffic at various points during construction. Mayor Smith stressed that the health and safety of citizens and workers alike is of paramount importance.
At the meetings, police, fire, and emergency medical representatives discussed, when construction already started, managing any emergencies from both Bayonne and Staten Island during construction. Those discussions will continue, so that all agencies involved can develop a coordinated approach to emergency response. The Port Authority Police Department will be the lead emergency agency for the bridge. The emergency services of the City of Bayonne, the City of New York, and other governmental agencies will participate in emergency response as needed or requested.
Port Authority representatives confirmed that the sidewalk on the bridge, and the staircase that leads to it, will be closed effective Monday, August 5, 2013. Due to the closing of the sidewalk on the bridge, the Port Authority will operate a weekend shuttle service for pedestrians and bicycle riders. That service will operate during certain months from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on weekends. Details will be announced.
The Skanska construction managers will have an office in Bayonne, and the Port Authority will set up a trailer on 1st Street near the Bayonne Little League stadium.
Discussions between the parties will continue throughout duration of the project.
The Port Authority has set up a toll-free phone number for project information and e-mail for questions about the Bayonne Bridge construction. That phone number is 1-855-265-5482. The e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. To receive the latest news and updates delivered to your e-mail inbox, please go to www.panynj.gov/bayonnebridge and click on e-mail updates.