Two of the world’s most visually arresting pieces of construction equipment – looking more like colossal candy-colored robots than mundane cranes – are toiling away on either side of the Kill van Kull, building new roadways that will serve the elevated Bayonne Bridge.
Known as segment-launching gantries, or gantry cranes, these mechanical giants haul and install the 70-ton concrete segments that make up the roadways. As big as they are – 500 feet long and 1 million pounds each – they work with finesse and precision, moving the roadway segments into just the right place for human workers to bind them with steel, epoxy and more concrete.
Custom-made for the Port Authority’s ambitious Bayonne Bridge “Raise the Roadway” project, the gantry cranes often operate at night when the bridge is closed to traffic. With their crayon-bold colors lit up in the dark, they seem to have arrived from another world – a Marvel Comics universe, perhaps, or a child’s oversized toy bin.
The project marks the first time engineers are building a bridge roadway above the original span, even as the lower road continues to carry traffic. It will maintain the steel arch that makes the Bayonne Bridge a civil engineering landmark, while giving drivers a safer, wider and more modern roadway with 12-foot lanes, new shoulders, a median divider, and a 12-foot bike and pedestrian walkway. See for yourself in the slideshow below and the time-lapse video of gantry cranes at work by the Port Authority’s Mike Dombrowki.