Frequently Asked Questions
Presently, the Bridge Street Bridge is over 115 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 its 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. The bridge needs major rehabilitation or replacement 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 have been 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 115 years old. The bridge is structurally deficient with its superstructure in poor physical condition with significant deterioration to most steel truss members, significant deterioration to floor beams and girders in the approach spans, and deteriorated 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.
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 local routes. Bridge Street Bridge is an essential transportation connection for the City of Newark and the Town of Harrison and to and from each area for residents, college students and businesses. The project 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.
A Local Concept Development (LCD) Study is the first phase of the Local Project Delivery Process for transportation improvements. A transportation problem was identified (the Bridge Street Bridge in poor condition,) and was the first step towards future bridge improvements. The County of Essex filed an application with the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) who oversaw this phase of the project, known as LCD. Both Essex County and Hudson County have shared jurisdiction of the Bridge Street Bridge and both were involved throughout the LCD Study phase, which took place between the years of 2016 and 2020.
During this phase, a well-defined and well-justified Purpose and Need Statement was developed focusing on the need to improve safety and maintain the current crossing over the Passaic River. The LCD Phase elements also included:
- Data collection
- Coordination with the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), community stakeholders, and permitting agencies
- The development of practical conceptual alternatives
- The determination of a Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA)
- Investigation of all aspects of the project including environmental, right of way, access, utilities, design, community involvement, constructability, and cost analysis. (See NJTPA LCD flowchart)
Local Preliminary Engineering (LPE) is the second phase of the Local Project Delivery Process for transportation improvements. It is also referred to as the Preliminary Engineering (PE) Phase. The Bridge Street Bridge is currently in this LPE/PE Phase. The purpose of PE is to further advance the Preferred Preliminary Alternative (PPA) that was determined in the LCD phase and to secure the Environmental Document.
The following is the anticipated schedule:
CURRENT PHASE – Local Preliminary Engineering (LPE)
Initiation of Preliminary Engineering (PE) Phase – Winter 2023
Submission of Design Exception Report – Winter 2024
Submission of Environmental Document – Winter 2024
Develop Final Design Scope Statement – Spring 2024
Submission of PE Report – Summer 2024
Completion of Preliminary Engineering (PE) Phase – Fall 2024
SUBSEQUENT PHASE – Final Design (FD)
Date TBD, approximately 2025
SUBSEQUENT PHASE – Construction
Date TBD, approximately 2027
The Bridge Street Bridge is a movable swing bridge because of the way it rotates to open the riverway 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: 7 feet (at MHW).
The Study findings to date have revealed the following:
- Bridge in serious overall condition and is Structurally Deficient – 2014 Bridge Re-evaluation Report).
- Sufficiency Rating = 48.5 (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 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).
The existing bridge structure cannot be widened due to the steel trusses. The replacement bridge will be wider than existing to improve traffic safety, which will include turning lanes and standard shoulders.
The replacement bridge will include standard shoulders and sidewalks on each side. As part of the PE phase, the design team will continue to ask for input from local officials and community stakeholders to understand what pedestrian and bicycle mobility and access is needed.
As part of the Local Concept Development (LCD) phase, a Preliminary Preferred Alternative (PPA) was determined. This alternative consists of replacing the existing bridge with a wider movable bridge. The PPA is being reviewed and further assessed during the Preliminary Engineering Phase.
The project’s goals and objectives are identified as follows:
- Provide bicycle compatibility and connectivity.
- Provide ADA compliant pedestrian facilities and crossings as well as connectivity to the approach roadways.
- Correct the controlling substandard design elements.
- Modernize bridge mechanical and electrical components to meet current standards.
- Maintain traffic operations and volume with minimum disruption and delay during construction.
This will be determined during the PE Phase, but construction is anticipated to begin approximately in 2027.
The bridge will be detoured during construction. It is anticipated that Clay Street will serve as the detour for Bridge Street.
The project will be federally funded. A construction cost estimate will be developed as part of the Preliminary Engineering phase.
Environmental resources that were considered during the evaluation of conceptual alternatives include air, noise, contaminated sites, parks, wetlands, water resources, and protected species and their habitats, as well as social, economic, and cultural resources such as historic structures and facilities. Environmental assessments conducted during the Local Concept Development phase found that minimal environmental resource impacts are anticipated.
The project is located over the Passaic River, and therefore potential impacts to water quality, navigation, flood zones, and aquatic and riparian habitats will be considered during design and construction. Additionally, the bridge requiring replacement is a historic structure. Measures will be taken to preserve the history of the structure while accomplishing the safety-driven goals of this project. Socioeconomic impacts such as temporary traffic diversions will also be minimized through careful consideration and ongoing discussions with the community.
The preliminary preferred alternative was selected for this project as the alternative that addresses the project needs and avoids or minimizes environmental, social, and economic impacts to the greatest extent. All potential project impacts will be evaluated, and avoidance/minimization or mitigation measures will be developed through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental review process.
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 PE 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.
Public meetings are good way to make your voice heard and ensure 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 website 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.
As part of the community outreach efforts, numerous meetings will be held to share project information and obtain input. Please be sure to:
- Check this website regularly for updated information.
- Ask questions via the online contact form.
- Attend Public Information Center meetings.
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:
Andres Gomez-Ortiz, PE
Essex County Principal Engineer
973-226-8500 x 2500
Sanjeev Varghese, P.E., P.P.
Essex County Engineer
County of Essex Division of Engineering
900 Bloomfield Avenue
Verona, NJ 07044
973-226-8500 x 2650
Joseph Glembocki, P.E.
Hudson County Assistant County Engineer
Thomas Malavasi, P.E. P.P.
Hudson County Engineer
County of Hudson Office of the County Engineer
830 Bergen Avenue, Floor 6B
Jersey City, NJ 07306
201-369-4340 x 4160
is composed of members representing Essex County, Hudson County, NJTPA, NJDOT Local Aid, NJDOT BERP, the prime consultant design engineering firm, Hardesty & Hanover, LLC and other supporting consulting firms for engineering, environmental, cultural and community involvement support. View the project team here