The Wittpenn Bridge is a vertical-lift bridge that carries New Jersey Route 7 over the Hackensack River connecting Kearny and Jersey City, New Jersey. It is named after H. Otto Wittpenn, a former mayor of Jersey City. The bridge comprises four 10-foot-wide (3.0 m) lanes, extending 2,169 feet (661 m) and standing 35 feet (11 m) above mean high water with a 209-foot (64 m) main lift span. Bridge construction commenced in 1927, and it was opened to vehicular traffic on November 5, 1930. The bridge has an annual average daily traffic (AADT) of nearly 50,000 vehicles, including about 2,000 trucks.
When raised, the bridge provides 100 feet (30 m) of clearance for ships. Raising the lift span takes 15 minutes. In 2005, the bridge was raised to accommodate 80 boats passing underneath.
The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) is replacing the Wittpenn Bridge and all its approach ramps (including connections to U.S. Route 1/9), a project estimated to cost $600 million, funded by federal dollars. The first phase of construction began in July 2011, and the overall project is expected to take 11 years to complete. The new bridge will be situated just north of the existing bridge.
The reconstruction of the bridge is being partially funded by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and it will be fully operational in 2021. In November 2018, the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) investigated a complaint raised by United Airlines that the fees they were paying for Newark Airport use were being diverted to roadway and bridge projects such as the Wittpenn Bridge which are not owned or operated by the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey.
Once completed, the bridge will carry the East Coast Greenway, a long-distance biking and walking trail, and the Meadowlands Connector, a New Jersey biking and walking trail that links Hudson and Essex counties.
The bridge is expected to open in winter 2020-2021.
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