The “bridge to nowhere” finally goes somewhere.
With an oversized pair of scissors (and $9.7 million dollars from NJ Transit), Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner finally opened the pedestrian bridge between the Port Imperial light rail station and the New York Waterway ferry terminal on Wednesday, after more than seven years of construction.
Thanks to the bridge’s opening, commuters will no longer have to dangerously cross four lanes of traffic on Port Imperial Boulevard in order to transfer between the two stations.
“It’s always been a little dangerous [crossing the street],” Turner said. “It’s like dodgeball.”
Ironically enough, the vast majority of attendees for the opening were forced to cross Port Imperial Boulevard one final time to get to the ceremony. While Turner was preparing to conduct the ceremony from the light rail station, NJ Transit heads, NY Waterway executives, other town officials, and media members happened to have gathered by the ferry terminal.
“The biggest reason for the delay was the construction of the garage.” – Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner
It was one final delay in a project that encountered countless difficulties over the years.
Construction began on the bridge all the way back in 2005, back when its projected cost totaled only $8 million dollars, but stalled during the recession.
A design change that entailed the construction of a five-story public parking garage only hindered the project further.
“The biggest reason for the delay was the construction of the garage,” Turner said. “The garage has been another two and a half years in construction.”
Though the garage won’t open up “for a few weeks,” according to Turner, the bridge is fully operational, marking the end of a journey that was far more arduous than anyone expected when NJ Transit and Roseland Property first began construction eight years ago.
The bridge also marks a crucial step forward in the development of the area in anticipation for the Grand Prix of America in 2014. The start-finish line and pit facilities are intended to lie directly opposite of Port Imperial’s ferry terminal, making the bridge crucial for spectator and staff access.
And though the town of Weehawken has plenty of work left to do in preparation for the Grand Prix, Turner can stop to take a look at the progress he has made and smile.
“The bridge is ready to go,” he said. “And it’s another major improvement to the waterfront.”