Rehabilitation project continues with substructure and ramp work
New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) officials today announced that the northbound lanes on the Pulaski Skyway are scheduled to be reopened by Monday, July 2 returning two-way traffic to the iconic bridge.
“Rehabilitating an 85-year-old structure that is 3.5 miles long is a massive undertaking, and the completion of the redecking portion of this project marks a major milestone, but there is still more work to do,” NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said. “Greater deterioration of steel required more extensive repairs than expected, and combined with some of the worst winter weather in New Jersey history, this portion of the 11-contract project took longer than originally anticipated. We appreciate the public’s patience while these necessary repairs were made and traffic was rerouted. The good news is the innovative materials and methods used to rehabilitate the Skyway mean this deck will last for decades to come.”
Northbound traffic pattern and Route 139 Lower Level configuration
In order to reopen the northbound lanes, a full weekend closure of the Skyway is necessary from 11 p.m. Friday, June 29 through 5 a.m. Monday, July 2.
When the northbound lanes reopen, the traffic pattern will change near the Tonnele exit, as shown in this video. Vehicles heading to Tonnele Circle, Route 1&9 North and the Lincoln Tunnel must stay to the right to exit. Motorists heading to Route 139 and the Holland Tunnel must use the left lane. In addition, the Newark, Kearny, and Broadway ramps will remain closed for rehabilitation in future contracts.
With the reopening of the northbound lanes on the Skyway, Route 139 lower level will resume the variable lane configuration Mondays through Fridays (except Holidays) with two lanes inbound (eastbound) and one lane outbound (westbound) in the morning and two lanes outbound (westbound) and one lane inbound (eastbound) in the afternoon and evening. Sunday afternoons and evenings also will have two inbound lanes going towards the Tunnel, with one lane outbound. This weekend, Route 139 will be two lanes inbound from Saturday morning into Monday morning.
Completing Contracts 3 & 4 required an enormous effort
The northbound lanes of the Pulaski Skyway were closed on April 12, 2014 as part of the $1 billion rehabilitation project. The rehabilitation of the bridge deck was carried out in two contracts – Contract 3, which covered approximately 2.7 miles of the northbound lanes and Contract 4, which covered the entire 3.5 miles of the southbound lanes, as well as 0.8 miles of the northbound lanes on the eastern (Jersey City) side of the Skyway.
NJDOT successfully worked with local officials, other transportation agencies, emergency responders, employers, and others to devise strategies to minimize congestion and other negative impacts during the closure of the northbound lanes. Enhancements to existing transit services by our partner agencies, improvements to the Route 1&9 Truck corridor, and the use of the shoulder on the NJ Turnpike Extension during peak traffic times were key to keeping traffic flowing during the deck reconstruction.
There were several challenges on these deck replacement contracts, including the greater deterioration of steel that was found when the deck was removed, and extremely harsh weather conditions. Another challenge was the Skyway has 118 spans but only the two river spans are the same. That means the framing plans were unique on each and every span, and very few of the 3,500 deck panels were identical. This made the field verification process more important and due to the 3.5-mile length of the Skyway, much more time consuming.
To get a sense of the enormity of the work just completed, the redecking contracts included the replacement of 44 floor beams, removal and installation of tens of thousands of stringers (steel beams) and 3,500 deck panels, and the replacement of more than 15 million pounds of structural steel. In addition to the new steel beams, new deck panels, and riding surface, Contracts 3 and 4 included improvements to the drainage system and lighting system. Twelve new overhead sign boards were added and 284 new LED lights were installed. Guiderail was upgraded to modern safety standards and the balustrade and lighting were designed to replicate the historic look of the Skyway.
Innovative technologies part of massive work
Many innovative and sustainable technologies were used on the Pulaski Skyway that will extend the service life of the structure for decades to come. These state-of-the-art materials include:
- More than 3,500 precast deck panels that are less prone to cracking and deterioration
- Stainless steel rebar with proven corrosion resistance provides longer service life than standard rebar
- Exodermic deck panels used near the Broadway ramp reduce weight while maintaining strength
- Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC) is a strong material that was used to connect panels allowing the size of the joints to be minimized.
- High-performance Polyester Polymer Concrete (PPC) overlay was placed on top of the deck to provide a smooth, long lasting finish that also will provide additional protection from corrosive agents
Milestone reached, more work to do
Completing these two contracts and restoring two-way traffic to the Skyway is an important milestone, however there is still a great deal of work to do. Fortunately, the remaining work will have far less impact on traffic, but there still will be the need for occasional temporary closures as future contracts advance. The project is being advanced through 11 separate construction contracts and is expected to be completed in 2024.
Three contracts are now complete, three are under construction, one is expected to be awarded this summer, and four more are in final design. Contract 1, which removed the concrete encasement around steel beams on the eastern end of the Skyway, and Contracts 3 and 4, which replaced the deck are now complete.
Contract 2, the rehabilitation of Route 139 upper and lower levels, which included the reconstruction of five bridges over the lower roadway, is nearing completion. Contract 5 will replace the Kearny ramp and is under construction, as is Contract 7, which replaces the Newark ramp, makes repairs to steel and substructure on either end of the Skyway, and resurfaces a portion of Route 1&9 in Newark. The other contracts will make repairs to the piers and structural steel of all truss members, replace the rocker bents, which are pieces of the superstructure that provide the flexibility for the bridge, and repaint the structure.
Pulaski by the Numbers:
- 2 rivers crossed (Hackensack and Passaic)
- 3.5 miles long
- 12 new sign structures
- 44 Floor beams replaced
- 85 years old
- 118 spans
- 284 new LED lights
- 3,500 deck panels
- 15,350 linear feet of metal median barrier
- 38,572 linear feet of drainage pipe
- 74,000 vehicles use the Skyway each day in both directions
- 367,600 linear feet of electrical wire
- 425,000 shear studs installed
- 15 million pounds of structural steel repair
NJDOT created a project-specific website – www.pulaskiskyway.com – which contains a wealth of information about the Skyway and the project, and will be updated with relevant new information as work progresses. The Department is carefully coordinating the Pulaski Skyway project with other regional transportation infrastructure projects to minimize traffic congestion.
The Department has a project hotline telephone number, 973-776-7400, and email, Pulaski.Skyway@dot.nj.gov. Anyone who has questions, concerns, or suggestions is encouraged to contact the Project Outreach Team as work progresses.
NJDOT will be using Variable Message Signs to provide advance notification to motorists of traffic pattern changes associated with the work. The precise timing of the work is subject to change due to weather or other factors. Motorists are encouraged to check NJDOT’s traffic information website www.511nj.org for real-time travel information and for NJDOT news follow us on Twitter @NJDOT_info or on the NJDOT Facebook page.