The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

Friday, 04 April 2014 12:20cat

Pulaski Skyway Rehabilitation to Reroute 34,000 Cars Daily

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The Pulaski Skyway rehabilitation will reroute 34,000 cars each day The Pulaski Skyway rehabilitation will reroute 34,000 cars each day

The Pulaski Skyway Bridge rehabilitation project will begin on April 12, and some New York and New Jersey Residents are already dubbing it “carmaggedon.” Once construction begins, 34,000 of the 74,000 cars that use the bridge to travel between Newark, Newark Liberty Airport, Jersey City, and New York will need to find alternate routes for their commute for the next two years. While the New Jersey Department of Transportation will increase bus and train services and recommend alternate routes, they do say these options will not eliminate congestion for commuters. The rehabilitation project will extend the life of the 82-year-old bridge by another 75 years.

The Pulaski Skyway Bridge is a four-lane bridge in northeastern New Jersey that crosses the Passaic River and the Hackensack River. The structure is 3.5 miles long and its longest span is 550 feet. The bridge is a steel deck truss cantilever bridge supported by concrete piers. The structure has a clearance height of 135 feet. The skyway opened in 1932 as part of the 13 mile Route 1 extension. Trucks have not been allowed to use the bridge since 1934 due to safety concerns for the public.  There have been many crashes on the bridge since it opened due to the slippery concrete surface, center breakdown lane, and wide open alignment that was intended to allow cars to travel across the bridge at high speeds. In 2005, the Pulaski Skyway Bridge was added to the New Jersey and Federal registers of historical places.

The bridge is currently functionally obsolete and rated structurally deficient by state inspectors. The I-35 Mississippi River Bridge Collapse in Minnesota in 2007 caused the New Jersey Department of Transportation to move forward with a 10-year, $200 million renovation project. After crews began working on the bridge, NJDOT announced that the repairs the Pulaski Skyway Bridge needed were more costly and time consuming than initially expected. The rehabilitation would cost closer to $1.2 billion dollars to complete, and the NJDOT believed it would take 10 years for them to have the money to complete the project. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie controversially diverted funds from a rail project in the region to the bridge rehabilitation to avoid any significant delays to completing the project.

The bridge rehabilitation will completely replace the riding surface of the skyway and will also replace the beams supporting the bridge deck. Southbound lanes will remain open during the project, but the 34,000 cars traveling north each day will need to find alternate routes. Officials considered keeping one lane open in each direction, but decided not to in case emergency vehicles needed to get to a car on the bridge. The state DOT is encouraging commuters to carpool and is also providing more bus and train options. They will also be adding another lane on the New Jersey Turnpike. The Pulaski Skyway rehabilitation is being carried out under 10 separate contracts and the last one will be completed in 2020.


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