New Jersey is a state with an economy deeply rooted in manufacturing and shipping. The state’s commerce is connected to the juggernaut that is New York City. Transporting people and materials across land and waterways, especially around the Port of New York and New Jersey, has required the construction of very tall, long bridges. Discover the highest bridge in New Jersey and find out how tall it is, where the structure is located, and more.
You may find yourself surprised at the answer! For the sake of clarity, the measure of the highest bridge in New Jersey is that with the highest clearance below it, not the one with the tallest towers.
What Is the Highest Bridge in New Jersey?
The highest bridge in New Jersey is the Bayonne Bridge, a structure that stands 215 feet tall. The bridge has a greater clearance below it than any other bridge in the state.
The Bayonne Bridge is a structure that links Bayonne, New Jersey with Staten Island, New York. This bridge passes over a body of water called the Kill Van Kull, a tidal strait between the two aforementioned cities. Kill Van Kull is a very significant body of water because it allows ships to pass from the ocean to the Port Newark‐Elizabeth Marine Terminal in New Jersey. That marine terminal is the busiest on the East Coast.
The strait also provides access to Howland Hook Marine Terminal in Staten Island, New York. These ports receive a vast amount of traffic, making the Kill Van Kull one of the busiest waterways in the region.
The bridge is a steel arch bridge that was first opened in November 1931. However, this structure has undergone major changes in the years since it was built. The structure measures 5,780 feet long and 85 feet wide. It carries four lanes across its length, including a pedestrian and bicyclist path.
Bayonne Bridge, by facilitating traffic in the waterway, has become a significant structure even though it carries fewer than 10,000 people across it per day.
History of the Bayonne Bridge
Workers started building the Bayonne Bridge in 1928 to add a third bridge connecting New Jersey and Staten Island. The bridge construction was abnormally difficult because it needed to occur without blocking traffic on the shipping channel that it would cross, the Kill Van Kull.
To make this effort possible, the engineers designed the bridge so that the trusses were built off-site, transported to the area, and then attached to the existing bridge. This project made careful use of hydraulic jacks to keep the bridge’s arch propped up.
The bridge was a rarity in the construction world because it was opened ahead of time and under budget. Originally, the bridge had a clearance of only 151 to 156 feet tall, and that was fine for the time. However, as ships became larger and taller, the bridge started to pose a significant problem to traffic in the waterway.
By the early 2000s, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey faced a dilemma. The region could lose out on valuable shipping traffic, or it could come up with a way to raise the bridge and allow massive ships to pass through the Kill Van Kull.
In an amazing feat of engineering, workers managed to raise the road from 151 to 215 feet high between 2013 and 2017. All the while, the workers kept portions of the bridge open to traffic! This project cost about $1.7 billion, and it was officially completed in 2019.
So, Bayonne Bridge was not originally the highest bridge in New Jersey, but it became the highest. Before then, the tallest bridge in this state was the George Washington Bridge, a structure with a clearance of 213 feet.
Where Is the Bayonne Bridge on a Map?
The Bayonne Bridge crosses from the southwestern area of Bayonne to the northern end of Staten Island. The structure generally travels north and south. The bridge carries Route 440 over the bridge.
To the north, Route 440 can take a person to Interstate 78 toward Jersey City. If a person takes the bridge south to Staten Island, then they can reach Interstate 278 and then cross the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge to reach Brooklyn.
Wildlife Near the Highest Bridge in New Jersey
The Bayonne Bridge is near two very densely populated areas, Bayonne and Staten Island. As a result, one may not expect to find a lot of animals in the region. Still, there are animals on both sides of the bridge as well as in the Kill Van Kull.
Let’s start by taking a look at a few of the fish that live in the body of water, including:
Keep in mind that this is one of the most heavily traveled waterways in the country. As a result, people need to be very wary about eating any of the fish that come from these waters.
Some of the animals that people may see on either side of the bridge include:
Several species of animals live in this region, but they are not as common as animals in suburban and rural areas.
Overall, the highest bridge in New Jersey is a 215-foot-tall masterpiece. This bridge was not intended to be the highest in the state, but necessity spawned the innovation that led to its ascension to the top spot. However, other bridges in the state are longer and wider than this one, and some even have a taller overall structure. Still, in terms of clearance below, none match the Bayonne Bridge.
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