The Honorable Ray LaHood
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
Dear Secretary LaHood,
Recently, President Obama issued the Executive Order on Improving Performances of Federal Permitting and Review of Infrastructure Projects, and I am writing to encourage the U.S. Department of Transportation to designate the Bayonne Bridge as a project of national and regional significance. In accordance to the Executive Order, the Department of Transportation and other Member Agencies shall submit a list of infrastructure projects of national and regional significance to the Chief Performance Officer (CPO), who chairs the Steering Committee on Federal Infrastructure Permitting and Review Process Improvement, by April 30, 2012.
The Bayonne Bridge is located in my Congressional District and stretches 5,780 feet across the Kill Van Kull Channel to connect Staten Island with Bayonne, New Jersey. Currently the bridge has a height of 151 feet; however, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has initiated plans to raise the roadway to 215 feet. At this height, post-Panamax ships will be able to reach the Port of New York and New Jersey. With the expansion of the Panama Canal to be completed by 2014, raising the Bayonne Bridge has become a top priority for the region. The project is currently undergoing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process that has been initiated by the United States Coast Guard and it is expected to be completed this year.
The Bayonne Bridge is an ideal candidate to be on the Department of Transportation's list submitted to the CPO of the Steering Committee for several reasons. Raising the bridge roadway will ensure that the Port of New York and New Jersey remains the third largest port in the country, and the first largest port on the East Coast. Once the Panama Canal expands, it is necessary that the Port of New York and New Jersey be able to receive to accommodate these post-Panamax vessels. The construction project is estimated to create more than 3,300 annual jobs during the construction period of five years and generate over $350 million in total wages. Additionally, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has dedicated $1 billion in funding to raise the roadway, and compared with other alternatives, this solution is believed to minimize environmental and neighborhood impacts. Raising the bridge roadway is vital to both the region and the nation's economy.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of my request to list the Bayonne Bridge as a project of national and regional significance, and please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions.
Member of Congress