The 85-year-old arch bridge is being given the new deck as part of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey’s “Raise the Roadway” initiative, a major operation to raise the level by 19.5m. The aim is to provide sufficient navigational clearance for the larger container vessels now using the expanded Panama Canal.

The new deck has been built while the existing one remained in service, with only limited disruption to traffic. Contractor for the scheme is a joint venture of Skanska, Koch and Kiewit Infrastructure.

The new roadway is initially accommodating one lane of traffic in each direction. It will reach its full width – four lanes plus inner and outer shoulders, a median barrier and a shared-use path for cyclists and pedestrians – by 2019.

“The Bayonne Bridge, a marvel of 20th century engineering, will become a groundbreaking innovation of the 21st century,’’ said Steven Plate, the Port Authority’s chief of major capital projects.