HANOVER TOWNSHIP, N.J.- Major repairs to a heavily used but deteriorating bridge on Ridgedale Avenue in Hanover Township, near the Walmart shopping center and a new commercial development is beginning this week.

A contractor hired by Morris County is expected to start work Thursday on the several-phase process of rehabilitating the small but important bridge, which runs over a tributary to the Whippany River at the junction with Frederick Place.

“This is a project that must be done to ensure the safety of our residents who use that road,’’ said Freeholder John Cesaro, the county governing board’s liaison on county road and bridge work. “It will be an inconvenience to local residents for the coming months, but we will do this work in a phased approach that will allow us to keep the road open. We ask for patience from drivers until we get a new bridge in place.’’

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County bridge number 1400-376 is a single span, steel-stringer structure with concrete substructures. The bridge, installed in 1974, is 28 feet long and 58 feet wide. It carries about 24,400 vehicles each day on a route that connects Route 10 and Morristown. Inspection of the span showed deterioration and severe rusting in the beams and numerous cracks in the deck. The rehabilitated bridge will be comprised of steel beams and a 4-bar painted bridge railing.

This will be a four-stage construction project, designed to allow traffic to move in each direction during the entirety of the project. It should be completed by the summer of 2018. A traffic signal upgrade at Frederick Place also is part of this project. Construction is scheduled to start on September 14, 2017 and completed in 300 calendar days.

The contractor for this project is Colonnelli Brothers of Hackensack. The bid construction cost is $1.3 million, including a mix of state and county financing.