The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has awarded more than $2 billion worth of contracts for long-anticipated work on three bridges spanning Staten Island and New Jersey—including the region's first major public-private partnership (P3) to replace the Goethals Bridge, at $1.5 billion.

Rendering Courtesy of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Partnering Up: The $1.5-billion contract to replace the Goethals Bridge is the region's first major P3.

The NYNJ Link Partnership—a joint venture of Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets Inc. (MIRA) and Kiewit Development—with lead contractors Kiewit Infrastructure, Weeks Marine and Massman Construction won the 40-year, design-build-finance-maintain contract for the 80-plus-year-old Goethals' replacement. It is the Northeast's "first true surface transportation project" to be done using a a P3, the authority says. It is also the first time since 1931, when the George Washington Bridge opened, that the authority will build a new bridge, it adds.

Under the Goethals deal, the authority will make no payments until significant construction milestones are achieved. The bridge will first open to traffic in late 2016 with substantial construction completion slated for 2017.

The authority has access to up to $500 million in a low-cost federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan and a private activity bond issue, PANYNJ says.

The authority also awarded a $743.3-million contract to the joint venture team of Skanska Koch Inc. and Kiewit Infrastructure Co. as part of a $1.29-billion program to increase the navigational clearance of the 81-year-old Bayonne Bridge.

Work on the bridge marks the first time that PANYNJ will build a bridge's roadbed above an existing roadway as traffic continues to flow on the deck below.

The project, pending environmental review and permitting process completion, is set to start later this year with completion targeted for late 2015, around the same time that the Panama Canal widening project is expected to be done.

Increasing the Bayonne Bridge's navigational clearance will allow the new large-scale "post-Panamax" vessels, designed to pass through the new canal zone, to pass under the bridge and gain access to New York and New Jersey ports, PANYNJ says.

The authority awarded a third contract, for $15.3 million, to Crisdel Group to resurface the Outerbridge Crossing. Completion is set for later this year. This bridge and the Goethals Bridge project are part of the authority's bridge revitalization program.

The three projects combined are projected to create more than 5,000 construction jobs and generate more than $600 million in wages. Construction for all three bridges is set to start this year.

Industry groups including the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York (BCTCNY) and the New Jersey State Building and Construction Trades Council praised the projects and credited them with stimulating the economy.

The work "will provide thousands of men and women throughout the region with high-paying jobs while also serving to improve the region's transportation infrastructure and the long-term competitiveness of our ports," Gary LaBarbera, BCTCNY president, said in a statement.

PANYNJ also announced that it expects work to begin on replacing the George Washington Bridge suspender ropes next year.