BERNARDS TWP., NJ -- Conceptual details on an $8.5 million replacement bridge for a crumbling 1931 structure on Valley Road that crsses over the Passaic River and links Bernards and Long Hill townships were presented at Tuesday night's Township Committee meeting, with a key part of the proposal being a promise to keep two lanes open throughout the bridge's reconstruction.

[UPDATE] Bernards Township reported on Wednesday morning, Jan. 16, that the bridge between the two counties would be closed due to a water main break for approximately four hours, starting as of 6:30 a.m. 

Among the concerns in the proposed construction plans was the presence of a water main and a gas main, as well as other lines, running under the bridge. 

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Construction on the project will likely not begin for five more years, with two additional years likely to be needed to build the new bridge, said Structural Engineer Chang Chung, who is employed by McCormick Taylor consultants, but who was representing Somerset and Morris counties and the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.

The final result will be a new Valley Road bridge with two 12-foot lanes, shoulders of about eight feet wide, and six-foot wide sidewalks on both sides, Chung said at the meeting. He also assured township officials that narrowed lanes would remain open in both directions during construction, rather than closing the bridge and diverting traffic along local streets, even though doing so would speed completion of the project.

The cost of the project will be picked up by federal funds, Chung said. Federal standards mean the bridge must be built to last for 75 years, he said.

Traffic studies show that about 9,300 cars per day cross the bridge, he said.

Chung explained that traffic would be shifted as far as possible to the south along the existing bridge while work takes place along the northern section, according to current plans. The opposite would occur after the north side is finished, he added.

Chung said further details would be provided soon. The presentation already is linked on the Jan. 15 Township Committee agenda.

Further information and an opportunity for citizen input is at http://www.valleyroadbridgenj.com.

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