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American Shipper

Bayonne Bridge study released

Bayonne Bridge study released

   The Bayonne Bridge's height will pose an increasing obstacle for the newest and largest commercial ships calling at most of the port’s container terminals in the coming decades, according to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study released last week by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

   The port authority-commissioned study looked at potential solutions, such as establishing a new height of 215 feet either by jacking up the existing 78-year-old span, building a new bridge, or replacing it with a tunnel linking Bayonne and Staten Island. The air draft beneath the Bayonne Bridge varies with the tide from 151 to 156 feet.

   The study found the bridge is an obstruction to most large container vessels greater than 7,000 TEUs that might otherwise call the Port of New York and New Jersey within the next 50 years.

   Port Authority officials already have implemented the Corps' recommendation for further planning and environmental analyses 'for the identification of a preferred project alternative.' In August, the agency authorized $10 million for planning and engineering analysis to determine the best solution for rectifying the Bayonne Bridge's clearance problem.

   The port authority's planning efforts to identify a preferred alternative will take about one-and-a-half years. The initiative also will provide a conceptual engineering study and a preliminary environmental analysis of alternatives.

   The total project cost of modifying or replacing the bridge could range from $1.3 billion to jack up the bridge to $2.2 billion to build a new bridge, the study found. A bored tunnel would cost about $2.2 billion to build, an “immersed tunnel” about $3.1 billion. Immersed tunnels are composed of prefabricated segments that are constructed elsewhere and floated to the tunnel site to be sunk into place and linked.

   The port authority said the project could take at least 10 years to complete because of “the lengthy environmental permitting and public review process required for any project of this scope, the need for further studies and cost-benefit analyses (including long-term economic forecasting), engineering complexity, potential environmental and transportation impacts and the lack of funding resources currently identified.”