By Chris Colabella
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) announced last December the approval of a $1.2 billion program to pay for upgrades to the roads around Port Newark-Elizabeth. The announcement was welcome news for New Jersey heavy highway construction contractors, many of whom will be tapped to reconstruct several major roads in the region.
In a statement announcing the move, Bill Baroni, deputy director of the PANYNJ, said the capital will fund efforts to modernize infrastructure. The appropriation “will ensure that we bring the era of 1950s roads into modern times so they can handle the volumes of cargo and resulting trucks that we deal with today,” he said.
This program is part of a continuing PANYNJ initiative to make Port Newark-Elizabeth more efficient and environmentally friendly by reducing truck congestion on the port’s aging roads, according to the PANYNJ media relations department. Planners expect that the road improvement project will mean less truck congestion in the region near the port. Further, as an added benefit, the decrease in truck traffic will add up to a whopping reduction in harmful truck emissions — about 281 pounds per year!
A Port Authority representative said improvements, design and reconstruction of five major access roads around New Jersey’s shipping terminals at Port, Corbin, Marlin and Kellogg streets and Doremus Avenue are expected to save $60 million in operating costs in the next 30 years.
The PANJNY was expected to award the contract for engineering services for the Port Newark-Port Street Corridor Improvement Project in late January (after the submission deadline for this article.) The Authority will coordinate and monitor overall design, including environmental design, landscaping design, geotechnical engineering services and civil engineering design. Additional projects are expected to go out to bid in the coming months.
In addition to repaving the five roads near the port, the project also calls for upgrading barriers, improving drainage, replacing traffic signals and signs, as well as realigning portions of the roads. This also includes demolishing and replacing the Corbin Street ramp. The PANJNY media representative said the construction should provide $1.2 million in safety benefits in the same time period. In the past several years, these roads have been the site of numerous traffic accidents.
When the widening of the Panama Canal is completed in 2015, the PANJNY expects that the size of container ships needing to access Port Elizabeth will increase significantly. The current height of the Bayonne Bridge is a problem because officials believe it won’t be able to accommodate the larger vessels. Therefore, one other major infrastructure improvement is included in the $105 million strategy; the PANJNY intends to raise the Bayonne Bridge by sixty-four feet by the time the Panama Canal project is completed.
Baroni has said that making sure cargo is able to flow safely and efficiently through the port is critical to New Jersey’s ability to attract international shippers to do business in the region.
Port Authority Vice Chairman Scott Rechler added that the program, along with other initiatives that focus on improving Port Newark-Elizabeth, enables the PANYNJ to provide a safe and efficient network of roads, thereby ensuring that New Jersey’s port remains a “vital cog in the region’s economy for many years to come.”
Chris Colabella is the president of CIS, Inc., New Jersey’s only local construction lead service. For more information, visit http://www.cisleads.comor call 800-247-1727to arrange for a free demo of CIS Leads.