The state Department of Transportation has announced that preliminary preparation work on a $3 million federally-funded project to demolish and replace a small bridge along Route 202 at the Bernards and Harding Township border, just north of the , is starting this week.
The project, expected to last through the fall, is the demolition and replacement of a small bridge, barely visible to passing traffic, which has been deemed to be structurally deficient. The bridge was built in 1924.
"They're out there this week, but this one is gonna be a slow build-up for the next few weeks, [with] minimal impacts for now," Tim Greeley, spokesman for the DOT, said on Thursday. "The signs are going up and some survey and field mobilization has begun. After that utility poles get relocated and work starts underneath the bridge and on the bridge abutments.
The DOT is planning maintain all travel lanes on the bridge daily between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., Greeley said.
The contractor will be allowe to arrange single lane closures with alternating traffic patterns overnight, between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., from Mondays through Thursdays, said Joe Dee, another DOT spokesman. But he said that the single-lane closures will be sporadic, and will be on an as-needed basis as construction proceeds.
Township Engineer Tom Timko said on Thursday is that his understanding is that the lane closures and any detours surrounding the project are due to begin in or around March 15.
according to a letter sent out last month by the state Department of Transportation.
The DOT, and Timko, have reported that in the final third stage of the project, traffic on that section of Route 202 will completely be closed in both directions for a continuous period of about seven days. During that time, the old bridge is demolished and a new bridge, already prefabricated, will be laid in place on a substructure to be constructed earlier in the project, the transportation department said.
Earlier in February, Timko said that final stage is expected to take place in August. The DOT's latest timeline is that the new bridge deck will be manufactured off site and installed by the contractor over a one-week period that is tentatively planned for late-summer. The project is expected to be finally completed in the fall, according to the DOT.
The DOT also announced the project will include installation of new guide rails and resurfacing of the the bridge approaches between North Maple Avenue and Childs Road (county route 613) and Shale Brook Drive.
Timko said on Thursday that the project will close Childs Road at the intersection of North Maple Avenue, but North Maple will remain open. Shale Brook Drive will have partial closures during various stages when work progresses thru that intersection, he said.
The work that DOT’s contractor, Joseph Sanzari, Inc., is due to begin this week will include sign installation, survey work and utility relocation, according to the DOT announcement.
As it now exists, Route 202 carries one travel lane in each direction over the bridge, with a three-foot wide shoulder.
The use of pre-cast concrete bridge components will significantly shorten the construction schedule and minimize the overall impacts to traffic and the local business community, accordinto to the DOT. The state will provide notification to the public in advance of the planned weeklong Route 202 closure, the DOT announcement said.
Planned detour routes are:
- Route 202 northbound motorists will be detoured via North Maple Avenue to Lee’s Hill Road to Glen Alpine Road to Route 202.
- Route 202 southbound motorists will be detoured via Glen Alpine Road to Lee’s Hill Road to N. Maple Avenue to Route 202.
Approximately 10,000 vehicles per day use the bridge — a major route between the Somerset Hills and Morristown — to cross the Passaic River, according to the DOT's figures. The transportation department said it had coordinated the design process with officials from both Bernards and Harding townships, and also Morris and Somerset counties.
Variable message signs will notify motorists of upcoming traffic pattern changes, according to the DOT. The precise timing of the work is subject to change on the basis to weather or other factors. The DOT said motorists should check the DOT’s traffic information website, www.511nj.org, for real-time travel information.