Bridge Work

An infrastructure success story on the Hackensack River

Image by TBishPhoto
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Image by TBishPhoto

Most of us have witnessed the industrial landscape that unfolds beneath the many bridges that span the waterways between Jersey City and neighboring cities, including Newark, Kearny, and Harrison.

It’s visible as you cross these bridges, as you stand on the riverbank, or as you ride the PATH from Jersey City to Newark: a complex interplay of rivers, bays, marshes, and steel bridgework starkly contrasting with the natural resources that still sustain waterfowl, fish, and other wildlife.

In an era when the usually benign word “infrastructure” can carry political fireworks, there’s an infrastructure project on the Hackensack River that could improve the lives of motorists who take Route 7, Route 1&9, and the New Jersey Turnpike.

Never heard of the Route 7 Wittpenn Bridge? It has none of the name recognition of a Pulaski Skyway, Verrazano, or the GWB, but for the next four years, it will be a hotbed of activity.

The Route 7 Wittpenn Bridge spans the Hackensack River between Jersey City and Kearny.  Route 7 allows eastbound traffic to access the Holland Tunnel, as well as business and industrial areas in Jersey City. It also gives access to the all-important Newark-Elizabeth Air/Seaport Complex.

The current vertical-lift bridge, which was built in 1930, provides no physical separation between opposing traffic on the two eastbound and two westbound lanes; it has no shoulders. A new bridge, which will be north of the existing bridge, will address these safety concerns. It will accommodate bike and pedestrian traffic and will be twice as high. The entire project is expected to be complete by the end of 2022.—Kate Rounds