Bloomfield, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. outlined plans to replace the Berkeley Avenue Bridge in Bloomfield on Thursday, January 21st. Replacing the bridge is necessary because the current structure is structurally deficient and its configuration with the roadway does not meet current traffic safety guidelines. Modernizing infrastructure and promoting traffic safety have been ongoing initiatives of DiVincenzo’s administration.

“The Berkeley Avenue Bridge is an outdated structure that needs to be replaced. Crossing the bridge was a nightmare at times because the road was so narrow and it was difficult to see around the curve of the bridge. This resulted in vehicles scraping the side of the bridge, damage to nearby properties and accidents,” DiVincenzo said. “The design of the new bridge will enhance safety by improving sight lines for motorists and the wider dimensions will make it easier to cross,” he added.

“Building a new structure across the Second River and the trail along the historic Morris Canal is a complex project that will take more than a year to complete. We understand this will create disturbances in the neighborhood, and we ask for the public’s patience and cooperation during construction,” the County Executive said.

“The bridge has seen a long life and the Township of Bloomfield is taking full advantage of this project to coordinate improvements to the walking path and Morris Canal in that area,” said Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia, who was accompanied by Bloomfield Council members Wartyna Davis and Carlos Pomares. “We look forward to the new bridge, which will make it safer for children walking to Fairview School and motorists,” he added.

The Berkeley Avenue Bridge, which crosses the Second River and the former Morris Canal, was constructed in 1922. Recent inspections discovered severe corrosion of the metal and erosion of the concrete in the structure, and described the span as being in very poor condition. In addition, the narrow width of the bridge and sharp turns that are needed to cross the bridge do not meet current roadway standards and have been blamed for a variety of motor vehicle accidents.

The project calls for the complete removal of the existing infrastructure and the construction of a new two-span steel curved girder structure with a reinforced concrete deck. The new bridge will be 108 feet in length and 46 feet wide. This is considerably wider than the 94-year-old bridge, which is 107 feet in length and just 28 feet wide. The increased width will create better sight lines for motorists driving over the bridge and enable the new structure to align better with Berkeley Avenue.

To enhance the aesthetics of the bridge, which is located in a residential area and next to Wright’s Field, a municipal-owned park, a decorative façade will be installed. The project also includes installing new curbing, sidewalks and driveway aprons to areas affected by the construction, upgrading existing storm drains, and reconstructing the trail along the former Morris Canal which passes below the bridge and installing interpretive signage about the Canal. All improvements will comply with ADA requirements.

Construction is scheduled to begin the first week of February 2016 and take about 15 months to complete. During construction, Berkeley Avenue between Montgomery Street and Newark Avenue will be closed, except for local traffic. Motor vehicles will be detoured south to West Street, which runs parallel to Berkeley Avenue and connects Montgomery Street and Newark Avenue.

Parsons Brinkerhoff received a $974,442 contract to design the new bridge and a $269,278 contract to provide engineering support services. Colonnelli Brothers from Hackensack was awarded a publicly bid contract for $3,597,452 to perform the construction work. KS Engineers from Newark was awarded an $899,195 contract to provide construction inspection services. The Essex County Department of Public Works is monitoring the project to answer questions and avoid delays. The project is being funded with grants from the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.

Other transportation infrastructure projects undertaken by Essex County in Bloomfield are the reconstruction of the West Street Bridge in 2009 and the Baldwin Street Bridge in 2005; upgrades at the intersection of Belleville Avenue and JFK Drive and Belleville Avenue and Spruce Street in 2012 and East Passaic Avenue/JFK Drive and Hoover Avenue in 2007; and planting 110 trees along Hoover Avenue and Broad Street in 2010.