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Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Chairman Albert Coutinho (D-Essex) applauded today’s decision by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to move forward with plans to heighten clearance under the Bayonne Bridge to accommodate larger vessels from around the globe.

“Many people have long recognized the Bayonne Bridge’s vital role as a job creation engine, and have been working to fix this problem for a long time,” Coutinho said. “In light of the ongoing work on the Panama Canal, we can expect an increase in global commerce from larger vessels from the far East. If we don’t heighten clearance under the Bayonne Bridge, we would risk losing out on this vital commercial activity to larger ports in the south and other parts of the country. This is a long-awaited and welcome decision by the Port Authority and I applaud them for finding a creative solution to address this problem.”

Coutinho noted that the Bayonne Bridge is too low to allow new super-sized cargo ships to reach Port Newark and Port Elizabeth. After holding a full hearing on the issue with industry leaders earlier this year, Coutinho sponsored a legislative resolution urging officials to quickly address the concerns. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey then authorized spending up to a $1 billion to address the problem.

Coutinho noted the ports provide more than 270,000 jobs, but he said 50,000 jobs could be lost if the bridge problem isn’t fixed expeditiously.

“This decision will not only save existing jobs, but help increase commerce and job creation over the long-term,” Coutinho said. “I am pleased that the Port Authority listened to our pleas and heeded our advice. Without question, this project will be good for both our economy and our workers.”