Tag Archives: Panama Canal Expansion

Bayonne Bridge raising is delayed six months

We have been talking about the Panama Canal expansion. One of the important projects is the Bayonne Bridge in New York harbor.

Last winter’s harsh weather has caused a six-month delay in completion of a project to raise the Bayonne Bridge’s clearance to allow passage by larger container ships at the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The new schedule calls for the bridge’s 151-foot-high roadway to be raised to 215 feet by the summer of 2016 — still in time for the expected opening that year of larger locks at the Panama Canal, port authority officials said.

Under the original schedule,  the roadway bridge between Bayonne, New Jersey, and Staten Island, New York, was to have been raised by the end of 2015 while work continued for several months on roadways and approaches. The overall project now is set for completion in 2017.

The bridge’s existing clearance is too low for large container ships sailing to and from terminals in Port Newark-Elizabeth or New York Container Terminal. The port’s other major terminal, Global Terminal in Bayonne, is seaward of the bridge.

Interest in raising the Bayonne Bridge extends coastwide. Carriers want to be able to deploy larger ships to call multiple East Coast ports. That’s difficult to do when the ships face bridge clearance limitations in New York-New Jersey, the East Coast’s busiest port.

Many ships now passing under the bridge must do so at low tide or with partial loads, extra ballast, or retractable antennas. Last April the Coast Guard warned that it would issue citations to ships that fail to to ensure they can clear the bridge safely.

Completion of the Panama Canal’s expansion adds to the pressure to finish the bridge-raising project. Canal locks under construction will handle ships capable of using the full 50-foot depth of New York-New Jersey channels being dredged under a decade-long project that’s nearing completion.

The port authority said a series of blizzards last winter limited construction work days, and that the project encountered delays delays related to utility work at the the site and in fabrication of precast piers.

The port authority said it is “confident that these issues have been resolved,” and that the project remains within its $1.3 billion budget, which includes a $743 million construction contract awarded to Skanska Koch Inc./Kiewit Infrastructure Co. Construction is approximately 25 percent complete, the port authority said.

Raising the bridge is a complicated engineering and construction challenge. Vehicular traffic on the bridge is continuing while sections of the roadway are demolished and a higher roadway is built  within the span’s existing structure.

The port authority said construction of piers for longer approaches to the bridge will be conducted during daytime hours to minimize noise for residents near the bridge. Assembly of construction gantries, a device that carries precast concrete roadway deck sections to the new piers, will begin this month.

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