- The longest bridge in New Jersey is the Pulaski Skyway, a structure that measures a total of 3.5 miles in length.
- The Pulaski Skyway had a price tag of $20 million and utilized 18 million pounds of building materials in its construction.
- The bridge features two lanes in each direction, carrying both U.S. Route 1 and U.S. Route 9 roughly northeast and southwest.
New Jersey may be one of the smallest states in the country, but it is also one of the busiest and most productive. The northern part of the state in the New York City Metropolitan Area has high volumes of commercial and passenger traffic. As a result, New Jersey has a wide assortment of bridges, highways, and railways. Today, we are going to focus on a single structure, the longest bridge in New Jersey. Learn about this 3.5-mile-long bridge and find out where it is located, why it was built, and its recent issues.
What Is the Longest Bridge in New Jersey?
The longest bridge in New Jersey is the Pulaski Skyway, a structure that measures a total of 3.5 miles in length. The actual figures for the Pulaski Skyway are a matter of debate. Yet, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) lists the bridge as a 3.5-mile-long structure. That is the measure to which this article will adhere.
The next-longest bridge in the state would be the Commodore Barry Bridge, a structure that is about 4,500 feet shorter. Unless the measurements for the skyway were off by almost a mile, it would still be the longest bridge in the state.
That being the case, the Skyway’s structure is atypical for a bridge compared to something like the Golden Gate Bridge. The Pulaski Skyway is still an elevated structure that carries a roadway across various obstacles. As a result, it is technically a bridge, and its entire length is counted toward the total. Even though it lacks the longest individual spans or spans over water, the Pulaski Skyway is firmly situated in the top spot.
A History of the Pulaski Skyway
Sigvald Johannesson came up with the design for the Pulaski Skyway in the 1920s. The NJDOT goal was to create an extension of U.S. Route 1 from Elizabeth to Jersey City’s Holland Tunnel Portal. The bridge passes over two rivers, the Passaic River and the Hackensack River, during its run.
The Pulaski Skyway had a price tag of $20 million and utilized 18 million pounds of building materials in its construction. The Skyway opened on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 1932, and the bridge received its name the following October when it officially became the General Casimir Pulaski Skyway.
The bridge features two lanes in each direction, carrying both U.S. Route 1 and U.S. Route 9 roughly northeast and southwest. Each lane is 11 feet wide, and there is a breakdown lane at a portion of the bridge’s center.
The bridge is a total of 56 feet wide. The structure’s unusual design, including the lack of a median barrier, and steep ramps led to an inordinate number of car accidents on the bridge. The Skyway has a clearance of 135 below as it passes over the Hackensack River, allowing ship traffic to flow under the bridge.
As a result, the Pulaski Skyway developed a fearsome reputation that was somewhat repaired by the addition of a median barrier and resurfacing to make the roadways easier to drive on.
The Skyway in the Present
By 2007, the New Jersey Department of Transportation considered the Pulaski Skyway structurally unsound and in need of imminent repairs and rehabilitation. The bridge’s complex design, need for significant repairs, and inability to safely take on the growing number of cars that passed over it contributed to that rating.
Around 10 separate contracts were issued to repair portions of the bridge starting in 2014. The major work continued until 2018. During that time, NJDOT shut down various parts of the Skyway, including the eastbound lane which was closed off for the better part of two years from 2014 through 2016. The Pulaski Skyway reopened to all traffic on June 30, 2018. Today, most of the bridge projects are finished except for some ramps. Those smaller projects are ongoing.
Where Is the Pulaski Skyway on a Map?
The Pulaski Skyway runs through Newark, Kearny, and Jersey City in the state of New Jersey. However, many sources disagree on the exact start and end of the Skyway. Nevertheless, the Skyway generally runs from eastern Newark, across the Passaic River, through Kearny, across the Hackensack River, and into Jersey City. From there, travelers can reach the many tunnels and bridges that ultimately lead into New York City.
What Wildlife Lives Near New Jersey’s Longest Bridge?
The longest bridge in New Jersey passes through a densely populated region of the state. As a result, wildlife is not particularly abundant in the region. Still, many animals live throughout Essex County and Hudson County where the Pulaski Skyway runs.
Some of the animals that people regularly see in this area are:
- Eastern gray squirrel
- Canada goose
- Red-tailed hawk
- Common water snake
- Brown rat
- Common box turtle
These are just a handful of the many animals that people live alongside in places like Newark and Jersey City. Interestingly, the Pulaski Skyway passes over two rivers throughout its run. Many different creatures live in and near the waters of the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers.
A few of the fish that live in these waters are:
Many other species of fish live in these waters. However, both rivers have high levels of pollutants in them. So, fishing and swimming are banned in many parts of each river.
The longest bridge in New Jersey measures 3.5 miles long. The NJDOT built this bridge to facilitate an easier flow of traffic from places like Newark, Kearny, and Jersey City into New York City. The bridge has undergone a tremendous amount of rehabilitation construction in recent years to make it safe to use. Thousands of people use this bridge every day. With the new rehabilitations finished, the bridge should continue to be used for decades to come.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © FotosForTheFuture/Shutterstock.com
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