"Proponents of the $1 billion bridge project proposed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey say it is critical to the port's health in the so-called post-Panamax era, when ever-larger ships will travel directly to East Coast ports from Asia upon completion of a Panama Canal expansion sometime next year. If the bridge remains an obstacle, they say, cargo will shift to other East Coast ports, jeopardizing thousands of jobs and billions in economic activity.
The healthy ports coalition, the New Jersey Sierra Club and others say they support the bridge project, but want safeguards to insure that the largely poor, minority neighborhoods surrounding ports in Newark and Elizabeth do not raise asthma rates and cause other health consequences. The coalition, in conjunction with the Newark-based Eastern Environmental Law Center, has threatened a lawsuit if its concerns are not addressed, a move that could significantly delay the time-sensitive bridge project.
Environmentalists have also called on the Coast Guard to produce a more in-depth, farther-reaching study of the project's consequences, known as an environmental impact statement."