The Bayonne Bridge

Posted by Anthony Licciardello on Monday, October 24th, 2011 at 8:29pm.

The Bayonne Bridge, looking west

During the early part of the twentieth century, residents requested that a bridge be built which would simplify the commute into Bayonne, New Jersey from Staten Island. The governors of both New York and New Jersey accepted their request and sanctioned the Port of New York Authority to have the bridge built. On September 18, 1928, construction commenced, using the designs of Othmar H. Ammann and Cass Gilbert. By November of 1931, construction was complete and the bridge opened on the 15th of that month in the neighborhood of Port Richmond, making it the longest steel-arch bridge in the world. Over the years, of course, longer bridges have been built, but it is still currently in the top five, being the fourth-longest in the world and the second longest in the United States, after the New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia, which opened in 1977.

In the fall of 2007, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority created a new bus route which would cross the bridge. This bus, the s89, runs all the way from the intersection of Hylan Boulevard and Richmond Avenue in Eltingville. It travels all the way down Richmond Avenue as a limited bus, getting residents to their destinations much more quickly. From there, it takes the Bayonne Bridge into New Jersey to the 34th Street Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Station. The buses conveniently depart every fifteen minutes to New Jersey and every thirty minutes to Staten Island between 5:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., as well as from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The cost of the bus is the same as that of any other local bus, which is currently $2.25.Bayonne Bridge

During the past few years, a problem has surfaced regarding the Bayonne Bridge. Container ships frequently pass beneath the bridge going to and from Newark Bay. Currently, the bridge has an air draft restriction of 151 to 154 feet, depending on the tide. An air draft restriction is measured by how much room there is from the surface of the water to the bottom of the bridge. In 2014, the Panama Canal is expected to be expanded, allowing the ships passing through to be much larger. Taking the air draft restriction into consideration, these ships would not be able to pass beneath the bridge. Currently, some ships have to wait until low tide just to pass through.

After taking a few options into consideration, such as demolishing the bridge and building a taller one, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, as it is currently called, has decided to build a roadway above the current one. This lower roadway, of course, would be demolished, raising the air draft clearance to 215 feet. Paying for this project, however, will be difficult, as the Port Authority is in charge of a few other projects that have cost quite a bit of money. On September 18, 2011, tolls were raised on the bridge to help them raise money for the project. Originally, their plan was to raise the toll four dollars. The governors of New York and New Jersey, however, demanded that the toll be lowered. The Port Authority agreed, raising the toll only $1.50; however, between the years of 2012 and 2015, the toll will rise 75 cents every December. In addition, any drivers paying with cash will be charged two extra dollars, encouraging residents to invest in an E-Z Pass, improving the congestion before toll booths.

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