Last week, in our City Council Chambers, Bayonne residents had their first opportunity to view plans in person for the proposed 34th Street pedestrian bridge. Once plans are finalized, that bridge will be constructed over Route 440 between the 34th Street Light Rail Station and the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor (the former Military Ocean Terminal).
There is a clear need for better, safer ways for pedestrians to cross Route 440 than running across the highway. Lives and public safety are at stake. Pedestrians have died in the Route 440 corridor in recent years. The need for safe pedestrian crossings has increased as economic development has taken place in the Route 440 corridor. There are various locations where pedestrian bridges could be placed along that highway. We decided to start with the 34th Street Light Rail area because there is already a pedestrian overpass there linking the Light Rail station with the parking lot. This proposed bridge would connect directly to the existing Light Rail passenger overpass. TY Lin, the engineering firm that has the contract for the bridge concept development study, has offered various options for solving the pedestrian safety problem around 34th Street and Route 440. The engineers have presented options that include various types of bridges and upgrading the highway crossing without building a bridge. Let’s be clear. We want a bridge.
The staff of TY Lin believes the best option or preferred alternative would be a single-span, prefabricated, steel truss bridge over Route 440. This proposal would include fully enclosed stairs and an elevator building at the east landing of the bridge, across the highway from the station. That plan would offer a sidewalk at the east landing that would connect to the sidewalk on Goldsborough Drive and at Port Terminal Boulevard. They are major streets at the former Military Ocean Terminal. The engineers envision a twelve-foot-wide space inside the bridge to provide safe access for pedestrians and bicycles. At the public information session on August 2, members of the public suggested that the bridge be enclosed for safety reasons. Several residents also called for more sidewalks in the Route 440 corridor.
At the City Council Caucus on Wednesday, August 9, at 6:00 p.m., TY Lin will offer a presentation about the proposed bridge to our City Council Members. This Caucus meeting will be televised on Optimum cable Channel 78 and on Verizon Fios Channel 42. We expect at least one more opportunity after that for the public to offer comments in person about the bridge proposal.
This bridge project began when the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority awarded Bayonne a $550,000 planning grant. Later, the City of Bayonne received more than $4 million in federal funds for bridge construction through the New Jersey Department of Transportation and the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority. The federal money came from the Liberty Corridor program, a transportation aid package that Senator Bob Menendez championed when he was still in the House of Representatives.
Where do things stand now? There is a concept for the bridge, along with a preferred option for building that bridge. We have more than $4 million for construction. After receiving more public input, we can move towards preliminary engineering, then to the final design of the bridge, and, ultimately, to construction.
As we continue making progress on this project, I would like to thank all of our residents who have offered ideas and expressed concerns about the safety issues on Route 440. If you would like to offer comments or suggestions to TY Lin about the proposed pedestrian bridge, please go to https://34thstbayonnepedestrianbridge.com/contact.
We look forward to working with the New Jersey Department of Transportation to provide more safe crossings in the Route 440 corridor.