By the end of next month, ultra-large container ships will be able to pass under the Bayonne Bridge for the first time, opening new commercial possibilities for the Port of New York and New Jersey.
In a press conference Tuesday at Maher Terminal, Port Elizabeth, Governor Chris Christie celebrated the completion of the project – especially the fact that it will be done six months ahead of schedule. "The ‘Raise the Roadway' project is a true game-changer for the port, one of the state's and this region's most significant job creators," said Governor Christie. "With the lifting of the bridge's navigational restrictions, we expect these numbers to continue to grow and shipping lines to begin to send their larger ships to this port."
With the opening of the New Panama Canal and the advent of more efficient ULCVs on long-haul routes, ports like PANYNJ are working hard to make themselves "big-ship ready." The complex bridge-raising project removes the air draft restriction on vessels transiting the Kill van Kull to terminals in Staten Island and New Jersey: The old bridge had a clearance of 151 feet, and the raised bridge will allow ships with a height of up to 215 feet to pass – the same as the Verrazano Narrows Bridge at the entrance to New York Harbor.
In September, the Army Corps of Engineers completed a 12-year, $2 billion project to bring New York's harbor depth to 50 feet, and the air draft restriction was the sole remaining navigational obstacle to modern vessels of up to 18,000 TEU. The Port says that it has also invested $600 million in on-dock rail to improve cargo handling, and terminal operators have invested billions more in a bid to make the East Coast's largest port more attractive for the world's biggest boxships.