Bayonne Bridge

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Bayonne Bridge
Bayonne bridge from Port Richmond.jpg
The Bayonne Bridge in 2004
Coordinates 40°38′31″N 74°08′31″W / 40.642043°N 74.141965°W / 40.642043; -74.141965Coordinates: 40°38′31″N 74°08′31″W / 40.642043°N 74.141965°W / 40.642043; -74.141965
Carries 4 lanes of NY 440/ Route 440
Crosses Kill Van Kull
Locale Staten Island, New York and Bayonne, New Jersey
Maintained by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Design Steel Arch bridge
Total length 5,780 feet (1,762 m)
Width 85 feet (26 m)
Longest span 1,675 feet (510.54 m)
Clearance above 14 feet
Clearance below 151 feet (46.03 m)
Opened November 15, 1931 (84 years ago) (1931-11-15)
Daily traffic 19,420 (2010)[1]
Toll (southbound only) As of 7 December 2014; Cars $14 for cash, $11.75 for Peak (E-ZPass), $9.75 for off-peak (E-ZPass)[2]
Bayonne Bridge is located in New York City
Bayonne Bridge
Bayonne Bridge
Location in New York City

The Bayonne Bridge is the fifth-longest steel arch bridge in the world, and was the longest in the world at the time of its completion.[3][4] Spanning the Kill Van Kull, it connects Bayonne, New Jersey with Staten Island, New York carrying NY 440 and NJ 440.

The bridge is one of three connecting New Jersey with Staten Island. The Goethals Bridge in Elizabeth and Outerbridge Crossing in Perth Amboy traverse the Arthur Kill.

The supported roadway carries two lanes of motor traffic in each direction. The roadway deck could accommodate an expansion for either two traffic lanes or two light-rail lanes. A pedestrian walkway, cantilevered from the western side of the roadway, provided the only access by foot or bicycle to Staten Island, until August 5, 2013 when it closed for reconstruction. The walkway is scheduled to reopen in 2017.[5]


Construction, opening, and awards[edit]

The bridge was designed by master bridge-builder Othmar Ammann and the architect Cass Gilbert. It was built by the Port of New York Authority (now the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey) and opened on November 15, 1931, after dedication ceremonies were held the previous day.[6] The bridge became a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1985. Ammann, the master bridge builder and chief architect of the Port Authority, chose the steel arch design after rejecting a cantilever and suspension design as expensive and impractical for the site, given a requirement by the Port Authority that the bridge must be able to accommodate the future addition of rapid transit tracks.[7]

The eventual design of the bridge called for a graceful arch that soars 266 feet (69 m) above the Kill Van Kull[8] and supports a road bed for 1,675 feet (511 m) without intermediary piers. The total length of the bridge is 5,780 feet (1,762 m) with a mid-span clearance above the water of 150 feet (46 m). The arch resembles a parabola, but is made up of 40 linear segments. The design of the steel arch is influenced by the Hell Gate Bridge designed by Ammann's mentor, Gustav Lindenthal.[9] Gilbert had designed an ornamental granite sheathing over the steelwork as part of the original proposal, but as in the case of the George Washington Bridge, the stone sheathing was eliminated in order to lower the cost of the bridge, leaving the steel trusses exposed. It was the first bridge to employ the use of manganese steel for the main arch ribs and rivets.[10]

Construction on the bridge began in 1928, and eventually cost $13 million. When it opened on November 15, 1931, it was the longest steel arch bridge in the world.[11] It maintained that distinction after the 1932 opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, whose arch is much more massive but 24 feet shorter.[10] The Bayonne Bridge's dedication ceremony was attended by David M. Dow, the Secretary for Australia in the United States, and the same pair of golden shears used to cut the ribbon was sent to Australia for the ribbon-cutting of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. After the ceremony in Sydney, the scissor blades were separated and one was sent back to the Port Authority.[6][10] The presence of the Bayonne Bridge ultimately led to the discontinuation of the Bergen Point Ferry.

In 1931, the American Institute of Steel Construction awarded the Bayonne Bridge the “Most Beautiful Steel Bridge” prize. The Bayonne Bridge was designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1985.[10]


In 2003, the bridge carried about 20,000 vehicles per day.

In September 2007, MTA Regional Bus Operations began a limited-stop bus route (the S89) that crosses the bridge. The route's termini are the Hylan Boulevard bus terminal in Eltingville, Staten Island and the 34th Street Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Station in Bayonne. This is the first interstate bus service offered by the MTA.[12]

Raising the roadbed[edit]

Bayonne Bridge at sunset
From Brooklyn Bridge

The Port Authority has launched a five-year, $1.3 billion project to raise the roadbed within the existing arch to allow larger container ships to pass underneath.[13][14] The expansion of the Panama Canal, which will allow the passage of larger ships coming from Asia to reach the East Coast, was the impetus for the Port Authority's decision to raise the height of the bridge. At the moment, the span presents a difficult obstacle to large container ships passing under it on the way to and from Newark Bay. Its clearance of between 151 to 156 feet (46–48 m) above the Kill Van Kull depending on the tide means that some of today's ships, which can reach 175 feet (53 m) above the waterline, must fold down antenna masts, take on ballast or wait for low tide to pass through. The problem will become more serious after the Panama Canal expansion project allows post-Panamax ships to become commonplace.[15][16][17]

On April 24, 2013, the Port Authority's Board of Commissioners awarded a contract to a joint venture of Skanska Koch and Kiewit Infrastructure Company. The work, begun in July 2013, will raise the road deck by 64 feet (19 m), create 12-foot wide lanes, including a bicycle and pedestrian lane, and install a median divider and shoulders.[18] This would raise the bridge's clearance to 215 feet (66 m) by building a new roadway above the existing roadway within the current arch structure. A gantry crane rolling on top of the arch will construct one rope-supported section of the new roadway at a time, using a temporary beam to support the existing roadway while each rope is replaced.[19] The existing roadway will then be removed. The Port Authority believes it is possible to build the new roadway without interrupting traffic flow between Staten Island and Bayonne. In July 2012 the Port Authority announced construction would begin in Summer 2013, to be completed by late 2016. In this timeline, removal of the existing roadway would be completed by late 2015, in time for the opening of the widened Panama Canal.[20]

One of the challenges faced by the project is the tight confines of the construction area: residential homes lie less than 20 ft (6.1 m) from the work site. Another challenge is that the bridge will remain open to vehicle traffic throughout the construction (though the pedestrian and bicycle lane was closed on August 5, 2013 for the duration of the project).[13][21]

The Port Authority commissioned a study of the question by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, completed in 2009, and authorized up to $10 million for planning and engineering services to develop options to deal with the bridge's low clearance.[22][23] The Army Corps of Engineers study looked at three options to deal with the height-challenged bridge. The quickest option they identified was a $1.32 billion project to jack up the bridge to increase its height by 40 percent, which could be accomplished by 2019 at the earliest. It will need a clearance of 215 feet (66 m) to handle the new ships. Another option is to build a new cable-stayed bridge, which would cost $2.15 billion and take until 2022. The most expensive option would be to get rid of the bridge altogether and replace it with a tunnel through which traffic would traverse under the Kill Van Kull. This option would take to 2024 to complete and cost $2.2 to $3 billion.

According to the Port Authority, the “Raise the Roadway” project will offer the region the following long-term benefits:[24]

  • Larger, more efficient ships calling on our ports will mean cleaner air for our neighbors.
  • Wider lanes, shoulders and median dividers will make the bridge safer for drivers.
  • A bikeway and walkway the entire length of the bridge will make traveling the bridge easier for all of us.
  • Stairs will be replaced with access ramps.
  • New piers, a new roadway deck and new approach roads will ensure the bridge will be built to last for generations.
  • The design allows for future mass transit service.
    • The Port Authority says its designs for this program will not preclude adding mass transit in the future.[25] Extending the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line to Staten Island over the bridge has been proposed.[26] Final design plans do not include a mass transit component.[27]

The Port Authority also projects that the project will support nearly 2800 jobs and $240 million in wages throughout the construction industry.

The Corps of Engineers estimated that raising the bridge would produce a $3.3 billion national benefit, noting that 12% of all US international containers pass under the bridge.[28] Congressmen from both New York and New Jersey pressed the Port Authority to act quickly.[16][29][30] In March 2012, the PANYNJ submitted a request to the federal government for an expedited environmental review process,[31][32] which was approved in July 2012[33] even though some residents in Newark and Staten Island said they wanted the Coast Guard to conduct a full environmental review.[34]

Improvements at Port Jersey on the Upper New York Bay are also underway.[28]


View from the lower chord

Tolls are collected on vehicles traveling into Staten Island (there is no toll for vehicles traveling into New Jersey).

As of December 7, 2014, the cash tolls going from Bayonne, NJ to Staten Island, NY are $14 for cars and motorcycles; there is no toll for passenger vehicles going from Stateln Island, NY to Bayonne, NJ. E-ZPass users are charged $9.75 for cars and $8.75 for motorcycles during off-peak hours (outside of 6–10 a.m. and 4–8 p.m. on the weekdays; and outside of 11 a.m.–9 p.m. on the weekends) and $11.75 for cars and $10.75 for motorcycles during peak hours (6–10 a.m. and 4–8 p.m. on the weekdays; and 11 a.m.–9 p.m. on the weekends).

Starting on December 6, 2015, the cash tolls going from Bayonne, NJ to Staten Island, NY are $15 for cars and motorcycles; there is no toll for passenger vehicles going from Staten Island, NY to Bayonne, NJ. E-ZPass users are charged $10.50 for cars and $9.50 for motorcycles during off-peak hours (outside of 6–10 a.m. and 4–8 p.m. on the weekdays; and outside of 11 a.m.–9 p.m. on the weekends) and $12.50 for cars and $11.50 for motorcycles during peak hours (6–10 a.m. and 4–8 p.m. on the weekdays; and 11 a.m.–9 p.m. on the weekends).[35]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "2008 Traffic Data Report for New York State" (PDF). New York State Department of Transportation. Appendix C. Retrieved February 27, 2010. 
  2. ^ "New Toll Rates for the Bridges & Tunnels going from NJ to NY - Effective 3:00 AM on December 7, 2014". Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. Retrieved November 29, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Bayonne Bridge Navigational Clearance Program". Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Archived from the original on 28 June 2011. Retrieved July 4, 2011. 
  4. ^ "World's Longest Arch Span in Kill Van Kull Bridge". Popular Mechanics. September 1930. p. 471. Retrieved January 8, 2010. 
  5. ^ Bayonne Bridge closed to pedestrians and cyclists By Alexandra Hill, WBGO News, 2013 August 6
  6. ^ a b "Two States Open Bayonne Bridge, Forming Fifth Link". The New York Times. November 15, 1931. p. 1. Retrieved October 28, 2008. 
  7. ^ Rastorfer, Darl (2007). Bayonne Bridge: A Landmark by Land, Sea, and Air. New York: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. p. 9. ISBN 0-9789640-1-2. 
  8. ^ "Bayonne Bridge - Historic Overview". Archived from the original on 3 September 2009. Retrieved September 28, 2009. 
  9. ^ Bonanos, Christopher (1992). "The Father of Modern Bridges". American Heritage of Invention & Technology 8 (1): 8–20. Retrieved May 30, 2010. 
  10. ^ a b c d "Bayonne Bridge". ASCE Metropolitan Section. Retrieved January 18, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Bayonne Span Wins Award for Beauty". The New York Times. June 10, 1932. p. 14. Retrieved October 28, 2008. 
  12. ^ "MTA NYC Transit Adds Bus Service from Staten Island to Hudson Bergen Light Rail, Advances MTA Commitment to Seamless Regional Transportation" (Press release). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. July 16, 2007. Retrieved March 13, 2010. 
  13. ^ a b Heffernan, Tim (April 2015). "A Bridge Too Low". The Atlantic. 
  14. ^ Zeitlinger, Ron (January 4, 2012). "2 public meetings scheduled on plan to raise Bayonne Bridge". The Jersey Journal. , article including animation explaining proposed reconstruction
  15. ^ "Port Authority Board Approves $10 Million Planning Authorization to Tackle Bayonne Bridge Navigation Issues" (Press release). Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. August 13, 2009. Retrieved March 13, 2010. 
  16. ^ a b Hack, Charles (September 28, 2009). "Pressure to Solve". The Jersey Journal. Retrieved March 13, 2010. 
  17. ^ "Bayonne Bridge Navigational Clearance Program - Draft Environmental Assessment". U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  18. ^ Port Authority Press Release, April 24, 2013.
  19. ^
  20. ^ Boburg, Shawn (July 19, 2012). "Bayonne Bridge Renovations Set to Finish Sooner". The Record (Bergen County). p. A-7. Retrieved July 22, 2012. 
  21. ^ Bayonne Bridge info
  22. ^ Todd, Susan (May 28, 2006). "Once-mighty span is now a tight squeeze for ships: inadequate height has become a costly issue for Port Authority". Staten Island Advance. Newhouse News Service. Archived from the original on 2007-03-08. 
  23. ^ Tirschwell, Peter (April 23, 2009). "Bayonne Bridge Replacement Gains Favor". The Journal of Commerce. Retrieved March 13, 2010. 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Hudson-Bergen Light Rail may be extended over Bayonne Bridge to Staten Island". The Jersey Journal. January 13, 2011. Retrieved September 20, 2011. 
  27. ^ Dominowski, Michael W. (June 16, 2013). "Staten Island dream of a train to New Jersey may be derailed again". Staten Island Advance. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  28. ^ a b Sullivan, Al (May 1, 2013). "Up it goes". Hudson Reporter. Retrieved May 6, 2013. 
  29. ^ Hack, Charles (September 29, 2009). "Pressing P.A. to Take Action On Raising Bayonne Bridge". The Jersey Journal. Retrieved March 13, 2010. 
  30. ^ Strunsky, Steve (May 31, 2010). "Bayonne Bridge Height Fixes Could Cost Millions, Port Authority's Revenue Fades". The Star-Ledger (Newark). Archived from the original on 4 June 2010. Retrieved June 1, 2010. 
  31. ^ Strunsky, Steve (March 26, 2012), "Port Authority officials ask Obama administration to raise roadbed of Bayonne Bridge", The Star-Ledger, retrieved March 27, 2012 
  32. ^ Leach, Peter T. (March 26, 2012). "NY-NJ Port Authority Submits Bayonne Bridge Plan for Fast US Review". The Journal of Commerce. Retrieved July 22, 2012. 
  33. ^ Strunsky, Steve (July 18, 2012). "Port Authority accelerates plan to raise Bayonne Bridge roadway". The Star-Ledger (Newark). Retrieved July 22, 2012. 
  34. ^ "Panama Canal project causes concern around eastern ports". WNYW TV. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  35. ^ "New Toll Fare Rates for the Bridges & Tunnels Effective December 6, 2015 at 3:00 AM". Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. Retrieved 2015-11-23. 


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