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By CAROL COMEGNO
The Home Port Alliance today expects to determine whether it will be able to safely move and moor the battleship USS New Jersey on Labor Day.
As of Tuesday night, two of the four pilings that will anchor the ship at the end of a new, $11 million, T-shaped pier weren't fully driven into the Delaware River nor filled with concrete.
"I think we should make the decision Wednesday to let people know what we are doing before the weekend," said Patricia Jones, alliance co-chair.
The group's construction committee is to meet at the South Jersey Port Corp. today to discuss the issue.
Pile driving is taking more time to complete due to harder material far below the surface of the river bottom, Jones said.
Joseph Balzano, chairman of the construction committee, has said the concrete must have time to cure so it can support the 45,000-ton warship safely.
The anchorage pilings are being driven 70 to 80 feet into the riverbed - deeper than the pier pilings.
The alliance, a nonprofit South Jersey coalition, has said it plans to open the historic ship to the public as a museum sometime in September. The USS New Jersey, a veteran of three major wars, is the Navy's most decorated battleship.
The alliance had set a tentative date of Labor Day for moving the ship upriver from its repair pier at Broadway Terminal to its permanent home behind the Tweeter Center.
Meanwhile, the state Department of Community Affairs is waiting to receive the alliance's plans for the ship's visitors center, on which construction was temporarily halted Friday.
"We did receive plans late yesterday for electric and mechanical work on the ship," DCA spokesman E.J. Miranda said Tuesday. "We still have not received the visitor center plans."
On July 30, the DCA received initial plans for the visitors center, but on Aug. 8 sent them back to the architect with questions, Miranda said.
The city cannot issue a building permit for the center until the state approves the plan. The alliance started construction of the building this month, but stopped after the Courier-Post reported a permit had not been obtained.
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