This 2003 photo shows the eastbound New Jersey Turnpike-Newark Bay Extension (I-78) approaching the main arch span of the Newark Bay Bridge. (Photo by Jim K. Georges.)
RELIEVING THE HOLLAND TUNNEL BOTTLENECK: When the Holland Tunnel was completed in 1927 and the Pulaski Skyway opened five years later, both provided modern, four-lane access between New York, Jersey City and Newark. Motorists were now able to travel from downtown Manhattan to Newark Airport in 20 minutes. By the early 1950's, congestion along this route doubled the required commute time. Moreover, because of its narrow four-lane, 40-foot-wide roadway, the skyway was closed to commercial vehicles. These factors necessitated construction of a new crossing over Newark Bay.
In 1954, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority began construction of an 8.2-mile-long, four-lane turnpike spur from EXIT 14 (Newark Airport) to the downtown Jersey City. Part of the New Jersey Turnpike-Newark Bay Extension included construction of the Newark Bay Bridge, a new $40 million crossing over Newark Bay that could accommodate commercial traffic. At a total cost of $120 million, or approximately $14.6 million per mile, the Newark Bay Extension was the most expensive toll highway to date.
Completed on April 4, 1956, the steel-arch span has a 1,270-foot-long main span, and a 135-foot clearance to allow ships to enter the Newark-Elizabeth port complex. The main steel arch span, which is the fourth longest in the world, is flanked by viaduct approaches of 4,233 feet on the western end, and 4,057 feet on the eastern end. The roadway has four 12-foot-wide lanes (two lanes in each direction), 12-foot-wide outer shoulders, and a four-foot-high concrete ("Jersey") barrier to separate opposing traffic flows.
In 1995, the New Jersey State Legislature officially renamed the span over Newark Bay the Vincent R. Casciano Bridge. As a member of the State Assembly representing Bayonne, Casciano petitioned state officials and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority for the Newark Bay Extension in the early 1950's.
The Newark Bay Bridge connects Interstate 78 and the New Jersey Turnpike mainline (I-95) to the west with the Holland Tunnel to the east. According to the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), the bridge carries approximately 65,000 vehicles per day (AADT). During 2002 and 2003, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority spent $6 million on structural improvements for the span.
Type of bridge: Construction started: Opened to traffic: Length of arch span: Length of Port Newark approach: Length of Bayonne approach: Total length of bridge: Width of bridge: Number of traffic lanes: Width of roadway (including shoulders): Channel clearance of bridge at mid-span: Height of arch above water at top: Cost of original structure:
SOURCES: "Jersey Pike Spur Will Open Today," The New York Times (4/04/1956); "Bypass in Bayonne" by Joseph C. Ingraham, The New York Times (9/09/1956); Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike by Angus Kress Gillespie and Michael Aaron Rockland, Rutgers University Press (1989); "Sights, Sounds of a Turnpike Always in Motion" by Jeffrey Page, The Bergen Record (6/20/1999); "Welcome to the New Jersey Turnpike," New Jersey Turnpike Authority (1999); Phil Case; Frank Curcio; Raymond C. Martin; Dan Moraseski; Mike Natale; James Tarkany; William F. Yurasko.
I-78 shield by Ralph Herman. New Jersey Turnpike shield by New Jersey Turnpike Authority. Lightpost by Millerbernd Manufacturing Company.
NEW JERSEY TURNPIKE -- NEWARK BAY EXTENSION LINKS: