Why is this bridge study necessary?
Presently, the Bridge Street Bridge is over 100 years old and has structural and functional limitations that don't meet today's design standards. Due to its age, the bridge has deteriorated over time and routine maintenance can no longer address the deficiencies.
Age and deterioration, increased traffic volume and loads (weight of vehicles), and the potential for severe storms to disrupt normal operations are some of the reasons why this bridge no longer operates well and is in need of major rehabilitation or replacement if it is to continue to function and provide a viable crossing of the Passaic River connecting Bridge Street in the City Newark, Essex County and Central Avenue in the Town of Harrison, Hudson County. Both are identified as important roadways for the local communities and the region.
Age and Physical Condition. The bridge was built in 1908 and is beyond its serviceable life at over one hundred years old. The bridge is in serious overall condition and is structurally deficient. The bridge is structurally deficient with its superstructure in poor physical condition with localized advanced section losses to most steel truss members, localized advanced section losses to floor beams and girders in the approach spans, and holed through truss gusset plates in the swing span. The substructure is in satisfactory condition. The bridge’s mechanical machinery and electrical system are in fair to poor condition and consist of new and obsolete devices and sub-systems that are nearing the end of their serviceable life.
Load Capacity: The bridge is inspected every two years. It has not been load posted to restrict weight capacity, however if the deterioration of the steel support members advances it may become necessary, if major rehabilitation or replacement is not implemented.
Highway Safety: The bridge roadway width lacks shoulders and the approach alignment is substandard. The bridge railings are substandard and do not meet current crash standards. The bridge operating machinery has no span lock system as required by AASHTO. The bridge opening duration (10 minutes) does not meet ASSHTO standards (1 minute to both open and close).
Public Safety: There is no existing safety interlocking system that prevents bridge operations from proceeding out of sequence.
Seismic: The bridge is susceptible to seismic forces and does not meet current seismic design standards.
Storms: Bridge Street and Central Avenue are important routes and the bridge maintains an essential transportation connection for the City of Newark and the Town of Harrison with the Bridge Street Bridge as a vital link to and from each area for residents, college students and businesses. The Study will look at possible roadway and bridge improvements to allow better traffic flow, shoulders for increased safety and emergency access, continuous sidewalk access from each side of the Passaic River, and relief from storm-related issues for both communities and the Counties.
What is an LCD Study?
A Local Concept Development (LCD) Study is the first phase of the Local Project Delivery Process for transportation improvements. A transportation problem has been identified, such as the Bridge Street Bridge in such poor condition. It is the first step to bridge improvements. The County of Essex filed an application with the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) who oversees this phase of the project, known as Local Concept Development (LCD). Only one County can submit the application as the lead agency, however both Essex County and Hudson County have shared jurisdiction of the Bridge Street Bridge. Both are involved in this LCD Study phase. During this phase a well-defined and well-justified Purpose and Need Statement will be developed focusing on the need to improve safety and maintain the current crossing over the Passaic River. The LCD Phase elements also include data collection; coordination with the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJOT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), community stakeholders, and permitting agencies; the development of a reasonable number of sensible and practical conceptual alternatives; the determination of a Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA), and to investigate all aspects of the project. These aspects will include environmental, right of way, access, utilities, design, community involvement, constructability, and cost analysis. (See NJTPA LCD flowchart)
What is the schedule for the Bridge Street Bridge LCD Study?
The following is the anticipated schedule:
LCD Project Schedule (Major Milestones)
Develop Project Purpose and Need Statement - Fall 2016
Development of Conceptual Alternatives - Winter 2017
Recommendation of Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA) – Fall 2019
Submission of Draft Concept Development Report – Winter 2020
Obtain Resolutions of Support for PPA – Winter 2020
Completion of Local Concept Development Phase – Spring 2020
What kind of a bridge is the Bridge Street Bridge?
The Bridge Street Bridge is a movable swing bridge because of the way it rotates to open the river way for marine vessels to move up and down the Passaic River:
- Bridge spans the Passaic River connecting the City of Newark and the Borough of East Newark.
- Year Built: 1908 (rehabilitation work in 1942, 1958, 1975, 1992, & 1997).
- Bridge type: 3 spans- riveted Warren truss rim-bearing swing center span (236 ft), west approach riveted deck girder (42 ft) and east approach pre-stressed concrete box beam (41 ft).
- Overall length: 326 feet.
- Bridge roadway width: 36’ – 8”.
- Bridge clearance in closed position: 8.2 feet (at MHW).
What is the existing condition of the bridge?
The Study findings to date have revealed the following:
- Bridge in serious overall condition and is Structurally Deficient – 2012 Bridge Re-evaluation Report).
- Sufficiency Rating = 33.0 (out of 100).
- Superstructure in poor condition: Rating = 3 out of 10 (localized advanced material losses to steel truss members and to girders & floor beams in swing span).
- Bridge may soon need to be load posted due to advancing deterioration of steel support members.
- Substructure is in fair condition.
- Bridge is scour critical.
- Bridge railings are substandard.
- Bridge operating machinery in overall fair condition but has no span lock system as required by AASHTO.
- Bridge electrical system in overall fair condition with many obsolete components (ex. manually operated barrier gates).
- Bridge opening duration (10 minutes) does not meet AASHTO standards (1 minute to both open and close).
- Bridge needs approximately $6M (six million dollars) in remedial repairs.
- Existing bridge cannot be widened (due to trusses).
Does Essex County and Hudson County plan to widen the bridge?
The Study will help to determine if there is a need to widen the bridge. The existing bridge structure can not be widening due to the steel trusses, so a wider bridge structure would require a replacement bridge or an alternative bridge crossing as possible improvement alternatives to address the project transportation needs.
How will the project benefit pedestrians and bicyclists?
As part of the Study, the project team is asking for input from the local officials and community stakeholders to understand what pedestrian and bicycle mobility and access is needed. As part of the LCD Study phase, when developing the project purpose and need for improvements, all modes of transportation should be taken into consideration regarding the bridge: pedestrians, cyclists, transit, vehicular, and marine types of activity and access.
Have the project's improvements been decided?
No, the reason for this Study is to identify what are the current transportation issues and needs regarding the Bridge Street Bridge to develop the purpose and need for bridge improvements. The project is currently in the Local Concept Development (LCD) phase to identify the needs, develop alternatives and determine a preliminary preferred alternative (PPA) for bridge improvements that with resolution of support from the local officials and concurrence with the regulatory agencies would then move forward to design and construction given availability of Federal funding. The County of Essex, the County of Hudson, and cooperating agencies will continue to seek community input on the design and proposed transportation improvements during the LCD phase and future phases of the project.
How much will it cost and who will pay for it?
The cost of the LCD Study is $500,000 (five hundred thousand dollars) funded with Federal dollars. There is no estimated cost of the design and construction of the project since the Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA) has not been determined.
How will the project affect the environment?
Environmental resources that may influence the development of conceptual alternatives and design include wetlands, threatened and endangered species, aquatic life and submerged aquatic vegetation, noise and air quality, hazardous materials, archeology, historic buildings or structures and socioeconomic considerations.
NJTPA is administering the project, however the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides the funding. Any transportation projects receiving Federal funding must also follow the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. The Bridge Street Bridge LCD Study must identify any environmental concerns and develop an environmental profile. When analyzing alternatives, one looks to avoid or minimize environmental impacts and if that’s not possible then to provide mitigation. The environmental resources include air, noise, hazardous or contaminated sites, parks, wetlands, water resources, social and economic impacts, and cultural resources such as historic structures and facilities.
The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Bureau of Environmental Resources (BEPR) oversees this aspect of the project in cooperation with NJTPA, Essex County and Hudson County to coordinate with the permitting agencies such as NJDEP and NJSHPO (State Historic Preservation Office) to develop a cohesive plan for proposed improvements. The agencies look carefully at comments from the public and thus community involvement is an important part of environmental process and moving the project forward with consensus and environmental compliance. The results of the environmental screening, which is in the project schedule, will be presented at the public meetings. A good Purpose & Need Statement and documentation is important for the review agencies to work well with the project team in moving the project forward from the LCD Phase to design and construction. Community involvement is an integral part of this process and the LCD Study.
Why get involved?
The primary tasks of stakeholders and engaging public opinion is to assist in the development of the Project Purpose and Need Statement, aid in the development of conceptual alternatives, identify possible fatal flaws, and weigh in on the recommendation of the Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA) based on the Project Purpose and Need.
The Project Team is very interested in knowing how the local community uses the bridge, any current traffic problems and how the public sees alternative solutions. Community Outreach during the planning stages is a vital part of the LCD process and we encourage the community to follow, participate and help make sure every potential effective element has been considered and examined for its viability.
Why attend the public meeting?
Public meetings are good way to make your voice heard and insure a successful project further down the road. If you are unable to attend a meeting, you can keep tabs on new project developments by visiting this Web site and reviewing the meeting minutes and PowerPoint presentation. Naturally, coming out to the meeting is the best way to stay involved and get your answers first hand with the project team present. However, if you still have questions we’ve made it easy for you to reach your County official directly by using the online contact form.
How can I stay informed or offer suggestions?
Essex County, Hudson County and the cooperating agencies of NJTPA and NJDOT, are committed to developing transportation improvements that best balance transportation needs, the environment, community concerns and cost. As part of the Community Outreach effort, numerous meetings will be held to share project information, obtain input.
- Check this Web Site regularly for updated information.
- Complete the Community Input Survey or the Public Comment Form.
- Attend Public Information Center meetings.
What if I have other questions or concerns about the project?
Essex County, Hudson County and the cooperating agencies of NJTPA and NJDOT, encourages community members to voice their concerns and contribute suggestions to the Project Team. To provide input, attend one of the public meetings or contact:
Luis E. Rodriguez
Essex County Assistant County Engineer
Sanjeev Varghese, P.E., P.P.
Essex County Engineer