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Falling Concrete From Bayonne Bridge Demolition Damages Cars Below

By Nicholas Rizzi | June 27, 2017 3:56pm
 Falling concrete from the demolition of the Bayonne Bridge broke the windows of several cars underneath.
Falling concrete from the demolition of the Bayonne Bridge broke the windows of several cars underneath.
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Vaughn Bellocchio

MARINERS HARBOR — Concrete chunks from old sections of the Bayonne Bridge rained down on cars Monday, prompting officials to halt unsafe demolition work, a Port Authority official said.

When contractors were demolishing a concrete pier of the bridge at about 9:45 a.m., debris fell below and damaged vehicles in a parking lot on Newark Avenue, a spokesman for the Port Authority said.

"We are currently undertaking a full evaluation of today’s incident with our contractor to learn exactly what happened and to determine a proper course of action moving forward," spokesman, Steve Coleman, said in a statement released Monday.

Demolition work halted on the project Tuesday as the Port Authority looked into to preventing further incidents and no injuries were reported, Coleman said.

The $1.29 billion project on the 85-year-old bridge will replace its deck with a new, four-lane span to allow larger container ship to pass underneath. It will also widen lanes and create a 12-foot bicycle and pedestrian path, according to the Port Authority.

The first section of the new bridge opened in February and the Port Authority expects to finish the project by 2019.

(Vaugh Bellocchio)

Vaughn Bellocchio, who owns The Polishing Pad auto body shop under the bridge, said this is just the latest in a string of falling material that rains down on nearby streets.

"Every month we get like a major pipe falling down, lumber falling down, all kinds of stuff," said Bellocchio, who's owned the shop at 5 Newark Ave. for 25 years. "Anything that they do rains down on top of us."

Bellocchio said crews finally installed nets around the bridge two months ago because of the insistence from him and neighbors. However, the nets disappeared about a week ago.

"If the nets were up we would've never had any problem," he said.

Coleman said Port Authority officials asked their contractor why the nets were removed and ordered that work would not resume until an "adequate protection plan" was put in place.

Since construction started on the bridge in 2014, residents have raised questions about the air quality due to dust in the air, complained of loud noises and dealt with frequent loss of water.

The construction has caused thousands of dollars in damages to Bellocchio's building, which he's been closing on Saturdays to clean his spot due to bridge construction. He is currently looking for a new location for his businesses because of it, Bellocchio said.

"It's a war zone," he said. "It's kind of like the aftermath of a car bombing."