By Kelly Nicholaides
for Montclair Local
Lane reductions will increase traffic on the Bloomfield Avenue bridge when a rehabilitation project begins today, Oct. 19.
At an Oct. 16 public meeting, New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) officials detailed the plans to replace portions of the bridge, which will remain open, but with lane closures, during construction.
The bridge connects Bay Street and Montclair Branch NJ Transit train stations areas. Built in 1911, the four-lane bridge accommodates more than 27,000 vehicles a day in its east and west bound directions between Montclair and Glen Ridge.
The state declared the bridge in poor condition and that it needs deck/superstructure replacement and substructure repairs. The work will include demolition of the existing deck and replacement with a new prefabricated concrete stringer deck. Repairs to the abutment and retaining walls along Bloomfield Avenue are also planned.
NJDOT is paying the neighboring Palace Car Wash for the business’s nine-month closure, beginning in March or April 2019.
Reached by phone, the business’s manager Scott Howard said the owner was not in, but that the car wash’s employees are aware of the pending closure.
“I’m not sure when it’s going to happen [closure] but everybody knows. They [NJDOT] hasn’t given us notice yet (from the NJDOT),” Howard said.
NJDOT officials said they did not recall how much the business had settled for, but noted that the owner had declined the state’s offer before an agreement was reached in court regarding payment for the temporary closure.
The project will be done in four stages.
“This is a major corridor, so we can’t really close down the bridge completely during construction. On Friday, barriers will be put up to reduce the two westbound lanes to a single lane. Two lanes will remain open on the east-bound side during the first stage of construction. Locals can avoid the area by finding other routes on their GPS devices,” said Scott Thorn, project manager for the NJDOT.
The $11.7 million project consists of replacing the bridge’s steel beams and concrete deck. Abatement walls will be repaired. The rehabilitation work is funded through the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund and will be completed by IEW Construction of Trenton, officials said.
After autumn work, construction will end for the winter and barriers will be removed.
In March 2019, the second stage of the project will begin to replace bridge portions. West-bound traffic will be affected first. Traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction. Sidewalk/pedestrian traffic will be temporarily closed during this stage, but a shuttle service will be available to take people across the bridge. The second eastbound lane will be restored in stage three, Thorn explained.
Supervising engineer Alex Borovskis said some noise is expected.
“The demolition will be done at night because we’re working around NJ Transit ,” Borovskis said.
The work is expected to be completed by spring 2020.