BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ Following almost five years of being out, the Lafayette Lane pedestrian bridge should be back in place by this summer _ possibly by Memorial Day _ township officials said this week.

The Bernards Township Committee on Tuesday night awarded a $216,880 contract to Colonnelli Bros. Inc. of Hackensack to fabricate and install a pedestrian bridge over the Harrison Brook.

Now, work can begin on a prefabricated brown aluminum bridge that can then be placed at the crossing site off Lafayette Lane, Township Enginner Tom Timko said following the contract approval at the Township Committee meeting.

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Fabrication of the bridge will take about eight weeks, he said. Bridge abutments will also be replaced, Timko said.

"Once the bridge is delivered, it will be open again in about a week," Timko said. 

Bridge closed for five years as of May 2

Timko estimated the bridge will be reopened by summer. In response to a question, he said it is possible that the new walkway off the dead-end street will be in place and open by Memorial Day, May 27.

The engineeer said that the bridge will have been closed by five years on May 2.

A local resident said there has been a crossing in the area since the property was first purchased in the 1700s.

However, in conversation following the meeting, Township Committeeman John Carpenter said he recalled using logs or rocks to build up a crossing at times when he was growing up in the township.

Bid lower than one that was not accepted more than a year ago

An initial bid about a year and half ago could not be accepted because of a dispute with a neighbor over granting of an easement to allow construction equipment to cross his property. An agreement has since been worked out, allowing the contract bidding process to be repeated.

Timko said this year's low bid, the one that resulted in Tuesday's contract award, was $30,000 lower than the best bid received about a year and a half ago.