Bayonne is in the process of completing renovation of an existing pedestrian bridge and is set to soon break ground on another, according to city officials.
At the July meeting of the City Council, City Planner Suzanne Mack explained the crux of the delays on the planned pedestrian bridges over Route 440. The bridges would connect the new residential, commercial, and industrial redevelopment at the former Military Ocean Terminal at Bayonne (MOTBY) with the rest of the city.
“We’ve been working on it,” Mack said. The city council previously bonded $10 million in 2020, with much of that going toward the two new pedestrian bridges.
Project in the works for years
One bridge would run from the 34th Street Light Rail station parking lot and over Route 440 to MOTBY, now referred to as “The Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor.” Another bridge is planned to cross Route 440 at 22nd Street.
“It would allow safe passage of residents,” Mack said. “We’ve been working with the New Jersey Department of Transportation, NJ Transit, and under the guidance of the Council President [Gary La Pelusa], and Mr. [Law Director Jay] Coffey.”
According to Mack, TYLIN International was awarded the contract for the concept development study for the pedestrian bridge. The council awarded that contract in June, totaling $549,977 which is funded by a Federal Highway Administration grant.
“We have a contract,” Mack said. “We went out to bid and TYLIN International from Rockaway was awarded the bid and we have a contract for that. We’re going to have a kick off meeting within the next two weeks on that bridge.”
Following that officials expect to be able to go out to bid for construction of the project soon. That could come at the next council meeting on August 17 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall at 630 Avenue C.
“We’re going to at least have one bridge over Route 440, which is very important to the safety of residents of Bayonne,” Mack said.
The city is also working on another pedestrian bridge in the city, one that cross the freight and light rail tracks. The 25th Street pedestrian bridge is currently getting a facelift, but the project is stalling.
25th Street pedestrian bridge delayed
Second Ward City Councilwoman Jacqueline Weimmer also gave an update to residents on the 25th Street pedestrian bridge. The $2.6 million project is funded by municipal bonds, the state’s infrastructure bank, and some nearby redeveloper contributions.
The contract was awarded to Grade Constructions of Paterson for $2,643.569.71 back in December of 2020. Officials broke ground on the project in June of 2021. However, the project is currently at a standstill.
The old bridge will be removed and will be replaced by the a new one that complies with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The old bridge had a steep walkway over the freight and Light Rail tracks. The replacement bridge will have an elevator and steps on each side that will lead to a flatter walkway than the one on the old bridge.
The old bridge is in the process of being replaced by the new bridge, which will be located a few feet next to where the old bridge is. The time it is taking to install the new bridge led to the issue being raised by residents and candidates alike ahead of the 2022 non-partisan municipal election back in May.
In response to questions raised by then-City Council President and mayoral candidate Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski, Mayor James Davis said that the new bridge was ready to go, but wires needed to be moved, prompting the necessity for further approvals. The matter has since grown more complex, as a mandated safety course had to be completed before any more progress could be achieved.
Weimmer empathized with residents, living in the area herself. While the bridge is out, residents have been forced to walk down the sidewalk to the nearest crossings at either the 22nd Street underpass or the 30th Street overpass over the tracks.
“There has been extensive delays with progress on the 25th Street bridge,” Weimmer said. “That bridge does affect a lot of people. I live on Prospect Avenue as well, on that side of town. We have a tremendous amount of pedestrian traffic that uses that bridge regularly. So I do understand the severity of the problem.”
Undertaking mandatory safety course
According to Weimmer, the city is working with all entities involved in regards to removing the old bridge and installing the new bridge. Due to a government mandate, everyone involved must complete a safety course, prompting the most recent delay.
“The issue is that we’re not solely working within the city of Bayonne or with our contractor, we’re working outside agencies,” Weimmer said. “We’re working with Conrail, we’re working with Verizon. We’re working with several different agencies and I’ve only recently learned that we received a federal mandate that anyone taking part in that project had to take part in a federal safety course to remove and relocate any and all wires on that bridge before the state would allow us to progress.”
Weimmer said the new bridge itself is ready to be installed. However, the project remains at a standstill while all parties take the safety course, before they can get the go ahead from the state to continue work.
“The safety course had to be taken by all parties involved,” Weimmer said. “They were made aware. I believe they are progressing through that. Because it’s more than one person. I’m certain it’s multiple people that had to take that course. Once that is completed and we receive a release from the state that we can move froward, we will do so.”
According to Law Director Jay Coffey, the city is anticipating the completion of the course and final clearance to remove the old bridge and install the new bridge soon.
“Hopefully two weeks from now we’ll have our final clearance and they’ll have their educational requirements met,” Coffey said at the July 20 meeting. “Then the city can move forward.”
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