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Port Authority of NY & NJ Move Forward with Project to Dredge Channel Underneath Bayonne Bridge

Posted on May 30, 2024

Preparing for a future of bigger ships and more cargo was the focus of three announcements Wednesday —including a project to dredge the Kill Van Kull five feet deeper beneath the Bayonne Bridge — at the ports of New York and New Jersey.

Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said the investments — made possible through a partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — are critical to keeping the New York-New Jersey ports among the most competitive in the world. The ports consistently rank as the busiest on the U.S. East Coast and No. 2 in the country.

The announcements were:

  • The planning of a 10-year project to deepen the Kill Van Kull waterway under the Bayonne Bridge has begun. This channel was deepened to 50 feet in 2016. And a $1.6 billion project was completed in 2017 raising the Bayonne Bridge from 151 feet to 215 to accommodate newer, much larger cargo vessels. The bridge spans the Kill Van Kull between Bayonne and Staten Island. The Kill Van Kull will now be dredged another five feet as part of this project.
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers included $51 million in their 2024 work plan that the Port of New York and New Jersey will use for berth maintenance dredging, rehabilitation and reconstruction.
  • The Port Authority is investing $32 million to deepen the Gravesend Anchorage, south of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge off Brooklyn, from 47 feet to 50 feet and widen the channel, which will provide a place for large ships to anchor between Ambrose Anchorage in the Atlantic Ocean and the seaport’s container terminals. That will be completed in 2025.

“Since the start of the pandemic, the port has performed at the very highest levels of performance and even as cargo levels have returned to their new normal post-pandemic level,” Cotton said. “Now, high performance rests on the coordinated investment that the Port and the U.S. government, led by the Army Corps, have made in the ports infrastructure.”

In 2017, the Bayonne Bridge’s roadway was raised another 64 to enable today’s much larger container ships to pass underneath. The project retained the bridge’s iconic parabolic arch.

Michael Connor, assistant secretary of civil works of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said these dollars also improve safety as waterways get busier with heavier, larger ships.

“We’re going to deepen and widen and expand and we’re going to do it with safety in mind because these investments don’t mean anything if we’re not operating these facilities in the safest manner possible to keep them open year-round, not having to be subject to any of the situations that we experienced in the past,” Connor said, referencing the fatal vessel strike that brought down the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore last month.


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