Holland Tunnel and Bayonne Bridge Celebrate Anniversaries This Month

November marks the anniversaries of several major transportation structures and facilities including the Holland Tunnel and the Bayonne Bridge.

The Holland Tunnel opened 85 years ago on Nov. 13, 1927, and was the first Hudson River vehicle crossing. The tunnel was named for Clifford M. Holland, the crossing’s first chief engineer. In 1984, the Holland Tunnel was designated a National Historic Civil and Mechanical Engineering Landmark and in 1993 the U.S. Department of the Interior designated it a National Historic Landmark.

Rutgers professor Angus Gillespie, who wrote, “Crossing Under the Hudson: The Story of The Holland and Lincoln Tunnels,” said earlier this year that the Holland Tunnel was revolutionary since many believed ventilation would be a problem for an underwater tunnel not used by electric locomotives and also helped engineers work out kinks in the tunnel building process. The Lincoln Tunnel, which was built 10 years later, was the “son” of the Holland, Gillespie said, with engineers already keen on what it took to build an underwater tunnel. Also, the Holland Tunnel’s financial success emboldened the Port Authority to pursue the Lincoln into midtown Manhattan, he said.

Yesterday, Nov. 15, was the 81st anniversary of the Bayonne Bridge, which was the last of the three bridges the Port Authority built to connect New Jersey and Staten Island. It opened to traffic in 1931 and served as the world’s longest steel-arch bridge for 45 years, until the New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia surpassed it by 25 feet. The Port Authority is currently undertaking a major project to raise the bridge’s roadway by 64 feet to 215 feet to accommodate larger ships that must travel under it to reach port terminals.

Also, earlier this month on Nov. 9, the Port Authority celebrated the fifth anniversary of when it assumed control from National Express of Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, New York. The agency acquired the airport to provide relief to its three major regional airports, LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International. Stewart’s roots date back to 1939, when the U.S. Military Academy at West Point built the first airfield at Stewart for cadet aviation training, later dedicating it as the “Wings of West Point.”

In 2011, more than 7 million vehicles crossed the Bayonne Bridge, an estimated 33.2 million vehicles passed through the Holland Tunnel and Stewart International Airport accommodated 413,654 passengers, Port Authority says.

Summer Dawn Hortillosa

is a freelance arts and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in the Jersey City Independent, The Jersey Journal, the International and other publications. She is also a creative writer and theatrical director.