Expedited approval sought for Bayonne Bridge scheme
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ) has requested an expedited federal review of plans to raise the clearance at the Bayonne Bridge.
The request was submitted immediately after US president Barack Obama issued a new executive order covering faster processing of permits and federal reviews.
“For too long, the Port Authority and other public agencies in the region and across the country have been caught in a web of too much process and bureaucracy,” said Port Authority executive director Pat Foye. “I applaud President Obama's decision to let common sense rule and to encourage coordination, urgency, and accountability for federal permitting processes at a time when critical infrastructure projects are vital to job creation and economic activity.”
The Port Authority has committed US$1 billion to the ‘raise the roadway’ project, which will increase the navigational clearance of the Bayonne Bridge from 46m to 65m, in anticipation of the Panama Canal widening completion in 2014. This expansion will allow for larger post-Panamax ships to access the region through the Kill Van Kull Channel.
PANYNJ sees the project is an ideal contender for expedited approval. “We are not building a new bridge but simply raising the roadway and rehabilitating an existing structure,” said Foye. “As the Panama Canal widening effort nears completion, every day becomes critically important to our goal of making sure larger cargo ships can access the Port of New York and New Jersey through the Bayonne Bridge. Speed is essential, and I am committed to making the Port Authority faster and more competitive.”
The project is currently undergoing the required Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review with the US Coast Guard, the designated lead federal agency under the US Department of Homeland Security. Construction on this project is planned to start in early 2013, pending federal and local environmental reviews.