The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Aug. 17 announced the start of the Route 3 Passaic River bridge replacement project that has been designed to improve safety and reduce congestion along a heavily traveled corridor.
The project will replace the structurally deficient moveable bridge with a new fixed span over the Passaic River, connecting Clifton City in Passaic County with Rutherford Borough and Lyndhurst Township in Bergen County over the Passaic River.
An average of 142,000 vehicles use the bridge each day, connecting motorists to the Lincoln Tunnel, the Garden State Parkway, Route 17, Route 46 and Route 21.
“Replacing the deficient Passaic River Crossing Bridge demonstrates NJDOT’s commitment to maintaining public safety, reducing congestion and modernizing our bridge inventory,” said NJDOT Commissioner James Simpson. “The new bridge, along with the additional upgrades along Route 3, will benefit motorists by helping to reduce congestion-related delays.”
As of Aug. 16, traffic in each direction on Route 3 was shifted to the right to establish a construction zone in the median of the highway over the bridge.
The existing Route 3 bridge was built in 1949 and has reached the end of its service life. Its substandard acceleration and deceleration lanes and shoulders result in numerous accidents and traffic congestion during peak hours. This section of Route 3 has been rated as the most congested freeway section in New Jersey.
To remedy these conditions, NJDOT is replacing the existing structurally deficient movable bridge with a new fixed-span structure. The new bridge is expected to serve motorists for another 100 years. To relieve congestion and improve safety, lanes with proper acceleration and deceleration lengths will be provided at the bridge approaches. A total of 15 new acceleration and deceleration lanes will be constructed, and the roadway shoulders will be upgraded within the project limits.
In addition, NJDOT is repairing and upgrading five other individual bridge structures within the project limits: Route 3 over Third River; Route 3 over River Road; Route 3 over NJ TRANSIT Main Line; Route 3 over the Route 21 ramps; and Ridge Road over Route 3. Noise barriers will be constructed along Route 3 in Rutherford, Lyndhurst, and Clifton.
NJDOT has staged the project in a manner that will enable motorists to cross the Passaic River throughout construction. Three lanes of Route 3 will remain open to traffic in both directions during daytime and peak period hours. No detours are scheduled for mainline Route 3. Nighttime single and double lane closures will be permitted, except during events held at the nearby Meadowlands complex.
The new bridge will provide a 30-ft. (9 m) vertical clearance over the Passaic River channel and will carry three 12-ft. (3.6 m) lanes of traffic in each direction with a median barrier. The new bridge also will feature two 12-ft. auxiliary lanes in each direction. NJDOT designed the new bridge to match the appearance and surface texture of the existing structure.
The $149 million, federally-funded construction project was awarded on June 24 to J.F. Creamer & Sons in a joint venture with Joseph M. Sanzari Inc.
The Park Avenue over Route 3 structure was replaced as a separate break-out contract in advance of this project. As part of that project, new dynamic message signs were constructed along Route 3 in both directions. These signs, as well as other Intelligent Transportation System devices, will be used for traffic control purposes to give motorists advance notice of future staging changes during construction on this project.