Port Authority Says Bayonne Bridge Will Be Raised In Time For Super Ships

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(New York, NY - WNYC) The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey says the roadway of the Bayonne Bridge will be raised in time for the arrival of the next generation of extra-large container ships. The $1 billion dollar project has been fast-tracked by the Obama administration, putting it six months ahead of schedule.

The lifting of the 80-year-old bridge is now set to be done by the fall of 2015. The super container ships will begin arriving in New York Harbor once the Panama Canal is widened, a project the Port Authority says has been delayed until the end of 2015.

That timetable contrasts with the 2014 project completion date  on the website of the Panama Canal Authority. But Port Authority Chairman David Sampson said on a conference call Wednesday that the administrator of the Panama Canal, Alberto Alemán Zubieta, had stated in an interview on Panamanian TV that eight months of testing of the widened canal would push its completion back to the end of 2015.

Which raises the question: once Port Authority staff saw Zubieta on TV, did they contact him to confirm the delay? Authority spokesman Steve Coleman later said "we are routinely in contact with the Panama Canal Authority and we will continue to engage in discussions with them throughout this project."

The bridge's roadbed will be lifted by 64 feet to 215 feet, allowing the world's largest vessels to sail beneath it. Fast-tracking means the federal government will speed up its environmental review of the project.

Almost all the cargo ships that come to New York pass under the bridge on their way to docking in New Jersey or Staten Island. Coleman also confirmed that the bridge might one day have accommodate public transportation. "The raise-the-roadway project design does not preclude a future transit option," he said. Just like another bridge project we know.