This is a fascinating time to live in New Jersey, be it in Hoboken, or Jersey City, or any of the other towns. If you have occasion to travel on the Bayonne Bridge, you no doubt have seen that they are working on it. The work is an ambitious undertaking to adjust the height of the bridge so that the Kill Van Kull, which the bridge spans, can accommodate larger and taller ships.
From its inception, the Bayonne Bridge was an engineer’s delight. Work began to construct it in 1928, and when it opened in 1931, it was the longest steel arch bridge in the world. It now ranks fifth in that category. Designed by Othmar Ammann, the master bridge-builder, and Cass Gilbert, an architect, the bridge was decreed a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1985.
The bridge is over a mile long at 5,780 feet, with an arch that goes to 266 feet above the Kill Van Kull. At mid-span, the clearance above the water is 150 feet. Manganese steel was used for the first time to build the main arch ribs and rivets.
With the expansion of the Panama Canal in order to allow larger ships to reach the East Coast from Asia, the 150-foot clearance, which was more than ample when the bridge was built, is inadequate to the larger ships, which can reach 175 in height. Therefore, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey contracted to have that roadbed lifted to a whopping 215-foot clearance.
Amazingly, the construction has been going on while traffic is maintained. The walkways have been closed until the construction is completed, which is slated for 2019. However, automobile traffic is still flowing across the bridge while the work progresses. Once it is finished the motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists will love it. The bridge will then feature twelve-foot lanes, new shoulders, a median divider, and a spacy twelve-foot wide route for bikes and pedestrians.
Just when you think what they’re doing is about as far as they can go, you learn something else. Besides all of the rerouting and updating on the bridge, they’re making it so it can, in the future, be fitted for rapid transit. How’s that for thinking ahead?
The Port Authority has released a fascinating time-lapse video of the progress. It’s a wonderful look at the genius of American engineering and industry! Here’s a link to the video.
While the work continues there are, of course, delays and occasional temporary closings. Here’s another link to the Port Authority’s site that will help you navigate the changes.
Have you checked out the progress on the Bayonne Bridge?