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Outlook 2014: Major Investments Span Metro N.Y.-N.J. Bridges

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More than $10 billion of bridge projects are either under way or about to start in the metro New York City area, most with multiyear plans that bode well for industry, executives say.

Photo Courtesy of PANYNJ
Closing In: Construction on the $1.5-billion Goethals Bridge replacement project may begin as soon as the end of this year, a PANYNJ spokesman says.
Photo Courtesy of CCA Civil
All Hands on Deck: Work to replace the deck of the Pulaski Skyway, part of NJDOT's rehabilitation program, is expected to start next year.
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Transportation will continue to be a popular sector throughout the next few years, says Robert A. Dennison III, New York regional director of transportation design services for VHB Engineering, Surveying and Landscape Architecture, Albany, N.Y. In the next five years, there will be 1,100 deficient bridges in New York state alone, all demanding attention, he adds.

"In previous years, the bridges weren't getting better—but they were, at least, stable," Dennison says. This problem applies to the entire Northeast region, which is full of post-World War II construction, he adds. "Because of the history and effect of the weather, the bridges are wearing out."

Despite the need, funding will remain an issue, Dennison says. "A lot remains unknown, including how our new representatives will address revenue, and what New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's transportation agenda will be," he says.

Another factor is the federal transportation bill, which expires in 11 months, Dennison says. The current bill, which focuses on the national highway system, benefits New York City and its major routes but is not "local friendly," he adds.

With federal funding short, some of the tristate's biggest bridges are receiving private investment. These include the $1.5-billion Goethals Bridge replacement, which moved closer to construction as financial details were finalized last month, says a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) spokesman. Construction is expected as soon as year-end, he says.

The Port Authority awarded a 40-year, design-build-finance-maintain contract for the cable-stayed span—which links Elizabeth, N.J., to Staten Island, N.Y.—to NYNJ Link Partnership last April. The lead firms are Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets Inc. and Kiewit Development, with lead contractors Kiewit Infrastructure, Weeks Marine and Massman Construction. The project is scheduled for completion in late 2017.

Another project deemed close to starting is the $550-million replacement of the Kosciuszko Bridge between Brooklyn and Queens. Proposals were due Dec. 4 for the first of the two-phase project. Letting for the second phase is expected in 2017, says the New York State Dept. of Transportation.

With a $3.9-billion price tag, the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project—one of the largest bridge projects in the nation—is under way. Construction of the new twin span, dubbed New NY Bridge, began in October with installation of permanent piles. Completion is targeted for 2018.

A $1-billion rehabilitation of the George Washington Bridge, which connects Manhattan to Fort Lee, N.J., includes a $199-million upper-level structural steel deck replacement. Slated for completion in 2015, the project will extend the life of the bridge by 15 to 20 years, PANYNJ says. In 2014, the agency expects to award a contract for the replacement of almost 600 suspender ropes.

Work on both the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which is undergoing a $50-million toll plaza improvement, and the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, which is undergoing nearly $1-billion in capital improvements, is expected to be completed in 2015 and 2019, respectively. Beginning in 2014, the Verrazano will also undergo a $235.7-million upper deck replacement.

At the Outerbridge Crossing, crews began and completed a $23-million project that included pavement, toll plaza and approach roadway replacements.

The project, along with the Goethals replacement and a plan to elevate the Bayonne Bridge's road deck by 64 ft, represents a $2.8-billion total investment in these links between Staten Island and New Jersey. Skanska Koch, Inc. and Kiewit Infrastructure Co. won the $743.3-million contract for the Bayonne Bridge this spring. Last month, crews removed sidewalk and fascia girders on the Bayonne Bridge, the PANYNJ spokesman says. The agency estimates that the $1.29-billion project will support nearly 2,800 jobs between 2014 and 2018.

The deck replacement of the Pulaski Skyway, which links Newark to Jersey City, is expected to start next year with completion in 2015, according to the N.J. Dept. of Transportation (NJDOT). The project is part of the bridge's $1-billion rehabilitation plan that includes repairs to its structural steel, concrete columns, ramps, piers and abutments and strengthening of the substructure components as part of a seismic retrofit. The project, which aims to keep the structure operational for another 75 years, is expected to be completed in 2018, NJDOT says.

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