BAYONNE - Delays on a project to raise the Bayonne Bridge could lead to other East Coast ports losing out on larger cargo vessels that are expected to begin passing through an expanded Panama Canal next spring.
The $1.3 billion bridge elevation project is aimed at accommodating the larger vessels and their higher cargo capacity. It was initially slated to be completed in 2016. But this month the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced it wouldn't be done until late 2017 because of construction delays. Now, the entire project isn’t expected to be complete until 2019.
The Port Authority said in an email to The Associated Press that it has discussed the issue with carriers and terminal operators, and that other East Coast ports will receive larger ships only after the bridge is raised.
At least one major container ship carrier appears to corroborate the claim. But it was news to officials at the ports of Baltimore and Virginia, the two East Coast ports that are expecting to receive the larger ships next year.
Bayonne residents who live near the bridge say that they are fed up with the delays and all the issues the construction brings.
Chris Puopolo says that the prolonged construction had caused some damage to her home.
“We do have some damages,” she says. “I don’t know what’s going to be done about them yet. We don’t know for sure what’s going to happen with that.”
The city administrator for Bayonne says that the mayor went door to door this week to hear from residents on continuing issues. He says another forum with the Port Authority could happen soon, but a date has not been set.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.