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Bayonne Bridge

   


Bayonne Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: October 19-20, 2013
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and Videos
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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
NY-440 and NJ-440 Over Kill Van Kull and Various Streets
Location
Bayonne and New York: Hudson County, New Jersey and Staten Island, New York
Structure Type
Metal Two-Hinged Braced Ribbed Through Arch, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Deck Girder, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1931 By Builder/Contractor: American Bridge Company of New York, New York and Engineer/Design: Othmar Ammann

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
2014
Main Span Length
1675 Feet (510.5 Meters)
Structure Length
6695 Feet (2040.6 Meters)
Roadway Width
40 Feet (12.2 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s) and 72 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
5523040

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

HAER Data Pages, PDF

This bridge is currently undergoing a severe alteration as part of a project to raise the roadway/deck of the bridge for boats!

View Section 106 Documentation For The "Raise the Roadway" Project

View A Biography of Othmar Ammann

View A Port Authority Book About The Bayonne Bridge

View A Historical Report About This Bridge's Construction

History and Significance

This bridge is nationally significant as one of the most noteworthy steel arch bridges in the United States. It was completed at the same time as the Sydney Harbor Bridge, but since it was a couple feet longer than Sydney Harbor, the Bayonne Bridge claimed the title of longest arch span in the world, a record it held for decades until 1977 when the New River Bridge in West Virginia was completed.

Discussion and Commentary About The "Raise the Roadway" Project

This bridge ran into trouble when project to enlarge the Panama Canal took place. This project in turn will increase the size of container ships which pass through the canal, with many of these ships moving on to destinations like the ports in New Jersey which can only be accessed by passing under the Bayonne Bridge. These newer, larger ships (called New Panamax ships) will be so tall that they will not fit under the as-built Bayonne Bridge.

Since making money is the essential goal in life, no amount of historic significance or beauty in the Bayonne Bridge would make New Jersey turn away the billions of dollars that would be lost if the obstruction to the larger ships was not addressed. As such, normally, this scenario would be a death sentence for a historic bridge. However, a unique project was developed that raises the roadway and deck of the bridge to the height needed for the larger ships, but also retains a portion of the original historic bridge, specifically the record-breaking steel arch structure.

Given the clearance problem that this bridge faces, the "Raise the Roadway" project is about the best that could be hoped for. The project is far preferable to the alternative which would have been total demolition and replacement with a hideously ugly modern bridge, resulting in the destruction of a nationally significant arch structure. This project avoids this horrible fate. It will also retain the record-breaking portion of the bridge, which is the steel arch. However, the fact remains that this project will severely alter the bridge and result in the loss of absolutely every bit of the original bridge with the exception of the steel arch structure. All approach span superstructures (riveted plate girder and concrete t-beams) will be demolished and replaced with modern pre-cast box segments, which will look similar to modern freeway structures. All original concrete piers will be demolished and replaced. This project will also will vastly alter the visual appearance of the main span. In particular, the experience of driving over the bridge will be a lot less interesting, since the arch will only rise above the roadway for a short distance, and it won't rise so dramatically above the roadway.

 In short, this project will have a devastating effect on the historic integrity of the bridge, but is still a lot better then demolishing and replacing the bridge.

Public information and transparency was very poor for this project. Absolutely no useful information was provided on the Port Authority website regarding the construction timeline. Here in the 21st Century, any time a bridge project of this scale is completed, a detailed, frequently updated construction timeline should be provided online. None of this was made available online. As a result, the sidewalk to this bridge was abruptly closed to pedestrians with no reasonable prior notice made. Additionally, construction work began without reasonable notice made online. As such, HistoricBridges.org had to make an emergency trip to photograph the bridge in October, and by this time was unable to walk on the sidewalk, and had photos obstructed by paint containment. Despite these problems, HistoricBridges.org was still able to gather a rather thorough photo-documentation of this bridge which is intended to convey the appearance and design of the bridge prior to alteration. 

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Photos and Videos: Bayonne Bridge

Available Photo Galleries and Videos

Click on a thumbnail or gallery name below to visit that particular photo gallery. If videos are available, click on a video name to view and/or download that particular video.

 
View Photo Gallery
Structure Overview
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents the photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution.
View Photo Gallery
Structure Details
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents the photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution.
View Photo Gallery
Crossing The Bridge
Original / Full Size Photos
A series of photos taken with a high resolution, wide angle GoPro camera showing the experiance of driving over the bridge. For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents the photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution.
View Photo Gallery
Structure Overview
Mobile Optimized Gallery
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. View the photos for this bridge in a reduced size which is useful for mobile/smartphone users, modem (dial-up) users, or those who do not wish to wait for the longer download times of the full-size photos. Alternatively, view this photo gallery using a popup slideshow viewer (great for mobile users) by clicking the link below.
Browse Gallery With Popup Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Details
Mobile Optimized Gallery
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. View the photos for this bridge in a reduced size which is useful for mobile/smartphone users, modem (dial-up) users, or those who do not wish to wait for the longer download times of the full-size photos. Alternatively, view this photo gallery using a popup slideshow viewer (great for mobile users) by clicking the link below.
Browse Gallery With Popup Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Crossing The Bridge
Mobile Optimized Gallery
A series of photos taken with a high resolution, wide angle GoPro camera showing the experiance of driving over the bridge. View the photos for this bridge in a reduced size which is useful for mobile/smartphone users, modem (dial-up) users, or those who do not wish to wait for the longer download times of the full-size photos. Alternatively, view this photo gallery using a popup slideshow viewer (great for mobile users) by clicking the link below.
Browse Gallery With Popup Viewer
View Video
CarCam: Southbound Crossing
Full Motion Video
Note: The downloadable high quality version of this video (available on the video page) is well worth the download since it offers excellent 1080 HD detail and is vastly more impressive than the compressed streaming video. Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.

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