In three decades of projects with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, chief engineer James Starace has no doubt that the “Raise the Roadway” project is the most challenging he has ever worked on. The new roadway, which carries traffic through the historic Bayonne Bridge truss, rises 64 ft above the original alignment. The new bridge is a nexus between a historic engineering past and a modern engineering present.

The new deck of the 5,780-ft-long bridge still traverses the 85-year-old, Othmar Ammann-designed steel arch, which, when the bridge opened, was the longest of its kind in the world. Building a new deck while the old one still carried traffic beneath it is a construction feat that officials believe is another first of its kind.

James StaraceJames Starace
New York City
ENR 3/23/17 p. 16
Immersed in both design and construction of an unprecedented engineering feat at the Bayonne Bridge.

Although solving complex challenges, accommodating community concerns and dealing with bad weather pushed back the project’s total completion date by two years, to 2019, the main goal—to allow modern-day supersized container ships to pass beneath the bridge’s new 215-ft clearance—has been accomplished.

Starace put his boots on the deck from the start. But, he adds, “I am only a representative of a lot of smart people, from the port authority—both the engineering team and agency-wide—to the designers and contractors.”

Together with the design team of HDR and Parsons Brinckerhoff (now WSP), Starace and his colleagues carefully considered all options and consulted contractors to ensure that the unprecedented feat could be pulled off.

“Jim is the kind of person who can make a complex project like this a success by understanding the needs of everyone participating,” says Christopher LaTuso, New York and New Jersey transportation program manager at HDR. “Jim’s knowledge and experience with both design and construction was extremely important to the successful completion of this one-of-a-kind project.”

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