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A Bridge That Will Be Raised,

Rather Than Razed

The Bayonne Bridge

The Bayonne Bridge is that rarest of achievements - a masterpiece designed by a committee.  In this case, the committee had two members.

Master bridge builder Othmar Ammann, who also gave New York the George Washington Bridge; the Triborough Bridge, recently renamed for Robert F. Kennedy; the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, the Throgs Neck Bridge, and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge partnered with the original Manhattan starchitect, Cass Gilbert, creator of the Woolworth Building, 90 West Street, the Custom House,( now Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian) the Lawyer's Association at 14 Vesey Street facing St.Paul's Chapel, 277 Broadway, the U.S. Courthouse on Foley Square, and the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

Together they gave birth to what was, at the time of its opening in 1931, the longest steel arch bridge in the world. It now ranks fifth in length, but is still the most elegant, connecting Staten Island with New Jersey via a graceful, vaulted camber.

But what neither visionary could see was a day when cargo ships would need more than 200 feet of vertical clearance-their original design provided only 151 feet.

So the Port Authority has embarked on a project to raise the bridge's deck, while keeping its arch in place.

The budget for this undertaking is $1.3 billion, which (at a mere 100 times the bridge's original cost of $13 million) seems like a bargain.

Photos courtesy Will Van Dorp