The main, four-lane roadway on the elevated Bayonne Bridge officially opened Monday morning, marking another milestone in the nearly six-year, $1.7 billion project that has opened New Jersey's ports to larger cargo ships.
Since February 2017, motorists have used one lane in each direction on the upper span connecting New Jersey and Staten Island. Starting Monday, they'll have the use of two lanes in each direction and added shoulders.
The bridge deck was elevated 64 feet to enable larger ships to pass under while cars still used the lower span, the first project of its kind in the country. After the upper roadway was completed, the lower span was removed.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has seen port cargo volume increase since the bridge elevation was completed in June 2017. Previously, ships carrying the equivalent of up to 9,300 20-foot containers could pass under; currently, ships carrying as many as 18,000 can be accommodated.
Construction began in 2013, and the elevation phase initially was projected to be completed in 2015 but was delayed two years due to several factors including extreme winter weather and complex steel reinforcement work. In addition, the plans for the bridge's initial construction in the late 1920s were unavailable, having been destroyed during the 9/11 terror attacks at the World Trade Center in New York.
The project went over budget by more than 25 percent, and in December 2017 Port Authority officials conceded better oversight was needed in the project's early years.
Work will continue for the next few months to complete approach roads and pedestrian and bicycle paths.