By Amanda Kwan, Media Relations Staff
Just in time for a staycation over the Labor Day holiday weekend, the Port Authority is reopening a newly revamped park and restoring continuous public access to Jersey City’s Hudson River Waterfront Walkway for the first time in more than five years.
This Thursday at 9 a.m., a stretch of the walkway about 182 feet long and the 10,000-square-foot park will fully reopen to the public as the Port Authority completes a 5-year replacement of the decaying Pier 9 that provided access to a Holland Tunnel ventilation building in the city’s Newport section. The reopening of the public areas caps the pier replacement work and restores continuous public access to the walkway. During construction, which demolished the 88-year-old timber pier and replaced it with a durable concrete and steel structure, pedestrians had to detour onto River Drive.
“We are thrilled to return much-needed green space back to the community in better condition than when it closed for the pier project,” said Enrique Ramirez, general manager of the Holland Tunnel. “We thank Jersey City and Newport Associates Development Company for their cooperation and patience while we completed this critical project, which helps us maintain the Holland Tunnel and ensure that millions of motorists can breathe easier as they drive through the facility.”
The project, completed a year ahead of schedule and under budget, began in September 2014 with the demolition of the original timber pier built in 1926 as part of the construction of the Holland Tunnel. Pier 9 provides maintenance and emergency access to the New Jersey River Ventilation Building, one of the tunnel’s four ventilation shafts that house fans blowing fresh air into the tunnel.
Altogether, 84 fans in the four ventilation buildings can replace all of the air inside the Holland Tunnel every 90 seconds. Replacement of the pier was hastened by increased deterioration caused by marine wildlife. The new concrete and steel pier is expected to remain in good condition for at least 50 more years.
“The pier replacement was a historic undertaking, because we were removing a structure that dates back to the construction of the Holland Tunnel itself,” said Louis Post, a member of the project team. “The pier provides access to maintain Holland’s ventilation system, which was the world’s first mechanically ventilated system in an underwater vehicular tunnel. It is part of a groundbreaking feat of engineering that is still used in tunnels around the world.”
As part of the replacement project, the Port Authority also renewed and beautified the public space adjacent to the pier, which remains inaccessible to the public for security reasons, as it was previously. A portion of the waterfront walkway was replaced by new lighting, benches and fencing. Public safety features such as anti-vehicle bollards and security cameras were installed. New and enhanced landscaping also was added throughout, including in the public park that had been partially closed during construction. The entire project was estimated at $94.6 million, but the final cost was $86 million.
Over the course of the project, an adjacent section of the walkway north of Pier 9 was also closed due to construction of the nearby Ellipse residential development, creating a four-block detour of the waterfront path onto River Drive. With unrelated nearby construction also complete, the restoration of the walkway by Pier 9 will provide uninterrupted views of the Hudson River and the New York skyline for thousands of pedestrians clamoring for more public outdoor spaces during a global pandemic that has closed most indoor spaces.
All photos by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey: