Sen. Menendez, Rep. Sires Join Port Officials, Labor and Industry Leaders to Highlight Progress Toward Raising the Bayonne Bridge

Sen. Menendez, Rep. Sires Join Port Officials, Labor and Industry Leaders to Highlight Progress Toward Raising the Bayonne Bridge

BAYONNE, NJ - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez and U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (both D-NJ) today joined Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith officials from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, as well as representatives of the International Longshoreman's Association Local 1135 and the New York Shipping Association to announce progress on the project to raise the Bayonne Bridge.

At a gathering at Mayor Dennis L. Collins Park - as mighty freighters were carefully navigated beneath the bridge's highest point - Senator Menendez said it was bipartisan leadership that has moved the project forward after many years of obstacles.

"Governor Chris Christie, Senator Frank Lautenberg, Congressman Sires and I and others urged President Obama to put this critical project on the Federal Infrastructure Dashboard list to expedite the federal permitting process," said Senator Menendez. "If you wear it, if you drive it, if you eat it, and if you use it - it probably came through the ports of Elizabeth and Newark. When the Panama Canal's expansion is completed, much larger ships will be steaming across the Pacific. And we will be ready and able to handle the larger ships and the increased traffic here in our region."

"Cooperation among the parties in New Jersey is making the project a reality and this is a victory for New Jersey residents and the state's economy,'' said Rep. Sires. "We appreciate the U.S. Coast Guard's efforts to effectuate the President's desire that this vital project be fast-tracked."

Bill Baroni, Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, also credited bipartisan cooperation for moving the project forward, saying, "It's the leadership and the partnership that Bob Menendez, Chris Christie, and Albio Sires and all of our federal partners have built," said Baroni. "When good people put their minds together great things can be accomplished including raising this roadway."

"This will bring a lot of strong union jobs to this region. Hopefully, this will be the stepping stone for this nation to see the strong union labor force that performs professionally to provide a good home and economic base for this country and definitely for this region," said Richard Suarez, president of the International Longshoreman Association Local 1135.

Susan Winfree, Vice President of Workforce Development for the New York Shipping Association said the members of the organization have been strong advocates for the raising of the Bayonne Bridge.

"It's the significant next step needed to keep the port competitive," said Winfree. "We can't wait for the commencement of construction."

Last week, the United States Coast Guard finished its environmental review of the $1.3 billion project to raise the Bayonne Bridge roadway 64 feet, to meet the demands of the 21st century economy. The federal permit for the project is expected to be in hand by the end of the week.

Raising the Bayonne Bridge will create an estimated 6,300 jobs including the trades of ironworkers, heavy equipment operators, and longshoremen. It will also ensure that almost 280,000 port-supported jobs will be secure for the foreseeable future, and it will generate $380 million in wages that will benefit local businesses and services, and middle class families. Overall, it will spark $1.6 billion in economic activity making it one of the most critical infrastructure projects for the entire East Coast, if not the nation.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey later reported that construction on the Bayonne Bridge project could begin as early as next month. Large ships will be able to pass under the bridge in time for the Panama Canal expansion in 2015. Final construction of the new roadway is expected to be completed by 2017.

###

Press Contact

Paul Brubaker
(201) 704-6981