ASSEMBLY PANEL TO CONSIDER HOW BAYONNE BRIDGE CLEARANCE PROBLEM COULD HURT ECONOMY, COST JOBS

(TRENTON) – The Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee on Monday will hear testimony on how the Bayonne Bridge’s low clearance could mean significant job losses and severely hurt New Jersey’s economy.

The Bayonne Bridge is too low to allow new super-sized cargo ships to reach Port Newark and Port Elizabeth. If the span isn’t updated, the regional economy will suffer, said Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-Essex), the committee chairman who noted the ports provide more than 270,000 jobs.

“New Jersey could start losing crucial commerce as these larger ships begin using other ports,” Coutinho said. “That would be devastating to New Jersey’s economy, and that’s something we cannot let happen for the good of our businesses and workers. Thousands of jobs are on the line unless we find an expedited solution.”

Monday’s hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. in Committee Room 9 in the State House Annex in Trenton. It will be streamed live at http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/media/live_audio.asp.

The committee plans to hear from industry experts and consider a resolution (AR-54) urging the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to formulate engineering and funding solutions.

A recent U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report estimated it would take until 2019 to complete a $1.3 billion project to jack up the bridge from its current clearance of 151 feet above the Kill Van Kull to 215 feet. Other options such as building a new, taller bridge or constructing an underwater tunnel, but that work would take even longer and be more costly, the report said.

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