The New Jersey Turnpike Authority’s board of directors has approved spending $149 million to complete the final design of a portion of the controversial highway expansion project through Jersey City.
A contract signed with Parsons Transportation Group will finalize the design for a project that will double the capacity of the Newark Bay Bridge. The bridge currently has four lanes, two in each direction.
The bridge will be replaced with twin bridges with four lanes in each direction. Construction is estimated to cost $6.2 billion, with construction expected to begin in 2026 and take 10 years to complete.
The section approved Tuesday covers “between mileposts 1.3 and 2.9, including the Newark Bay bridge and approach span,” Turnpike Authority spokesman Tom Feeney said. “In the coming months, he will have two more design contracts presented to the board,” he said. One for the section from interchange 14 to milepost 1.3 and the other for the section from milepost 2.9 to interchange 14A.
The existing bridge, officially known as the Vincent R. Casciano Memorial Bridge, spans Newark Bay and connects Newark and Bayonne. It is part of the Newark Bay Extension of the Turnpike, which diverts traffic from the Turnpike’s main route to Route 78, to Bayonne and Jersey City, and ending at the Holland Tunnel approach.
Backlash over pollution concerns
The bridge replacement is part of an approximately $11 billion program to replace and widen portions of the 13.1-mile elevated highway. Its price tag, the most expensive for a project in Turnpike history, and its potential to increase traffic and pollution are among the reasons it has faced significant opposition from environmentalists.
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Talia Schwartz, a Jersey City resident whose son has asthma, told officials at Tuesday’s board meeting that instead of adding freeway lanes, she would work closely with transit agencies to find alternatives to ease congestion. I asked. Rep. Robert Menendez proposed dedicating one of the new lanes to buses.
“Jersey City’s air quality rating is F and the Turnpike… They are planning to add more cars and lanes to the freeway right near where I live, and their statement says this is acceptable. It will cause as much harm as possible,” Schwartz said. . “We must take action to reverse the trend of worsening air quality.”
A report published in 2020 by Jacobs Engineering, which was hired as a consultant for the turnpike, found that the bridge could be repaired for $260 million, but the authors recommend replacing it to increase the weight it can carry. recommended.
Emmanuel Morgen said he developed asthma while living near the opening of the Holland Tunnel, an area where the Turnpike highway was being widened, and that his asthma subsided when he moved. She called on the Turnpike to do more to involve the public in its response.
“I’m calling on the Turnpike Authority to listen to the public, meet with the public, and have a real public forum where the public can respond. The public is not stupid,” she said. “Please listen to the concerns of the community before making any decisions.”
Lisa Navarro, the project’s supervising engineer for the Turnpike Authority, said the expansion will not only provide needed access to local communities, the port and marine terminal, and Newark Liberty Airport, but will also provide Bayonne , Jersey City, and Newark services, recreation, and entertainment would also be provided. .