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2/22/2017 12:00:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

New Jersey’s Bayonne Bridge Reopens, But Work Remains to Remove Old Deck

Port Authority of NY & NJ

The Bayonne Bridge opened Feb. 20 in New Jersey after work was completed to raise the surface to 215 feet to ensure larger containerships can fit underneath and call the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The 85-year-old bridge originally was about 150 feet high, but couldn’t handle Neopanamax vessels without exhaustive work to get the containerships to “duck under” the deck. The Port of New York and New Jersey said in a statement that it expects larger vessels traveling through the expanded Panama Canal to regularly call the terminals later this year when the old deck is removed.

But Dan Smith, principal at the Tioga Group, a freight transportation consulting company, said he believes that the changes in shipping patterns will be gradual rather than instantaneous.

“It’s like the Panama Canal itself. You saw all the excitement over the opening of the expanded canal, but the change so far has been incremental. You don’t see all of a sudden a line of 13,000 TEU ships attempting to get through,” he said. “You’ve had persistent overcapacity in the industry, unsustainable rates and weak demand, so there are too many things going on for this to have an immediate impact. They’re making a change for the decades to come, not the weeks to come.”

Paul Bingham, vice president of the trade and logistics practice at the Economic Development Research Group, agreed that there won’t be any changes before the major shipping lines launch their new alliances in April. The agreements between ocean freight carriers allow for them to put containers on other vessels to help combat overcapacity.

“Even those initial new alliance deployments may not see many vessel [routes] taking advantage of the new [clearance height] immediately because there isn’t the immediate jump in volume demanded to justify it, unless the carrier alliances can substitute fewer smaller vessels and still maintain the standard weekly service frequency with the larger ships,” he said.

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By Ari Ashe
Staff Reporter

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