Essex County News

Bloomfield's Berkeley Avenue Bridge Opening Celebrates 19th Century Canal and 21st Century Travel

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Ann Hardy of Bloomfield Historical Commission, Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, and Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia cut the ribbon on the Berkeley Ave. Bridge May 12 2017 Credits: John Lee / TAPinto Bloomfield
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The deck of the new bridge is lower in the center, improving the drivers field of vision. Fairview school can be seen in the background. Credits: John Lee / TAPinto Bloomfield
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BLOOMFIELD, NJ - Bloomfield's historic Berkeley Avenue Bridge officially opened Friday in a ceremony attended by municipal and county dignitaries. Built in 1922, it was one of las bridges over what was then the Morris Canal. The new bridge is constructed to meet the transportation and safety requirements of the 21st Century. 

The original bridge was of built with riveted steel plate. The deck of the 1922 bridge was higher that of the bridge opened today. The lower deck of the new bridge provides better sight lines for motorists. The new structure also does not have the same weight restrictions as the 1922 bridge.

Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia shared the anecdote of how the bridge was to take 15 months to complete, It was 15 months ago that the groundbreaking of site took place. "Infrastructure is very important to the community," Venezia said, " this is the second bridge in a month to reopen in Bloomfield" The first bridge to reopen being the one on Hoover Avenue.. “Closing the Berkeley Avenue for 15 months was a major inconvenience, but we thank the residents and motorists for their understanding and cooperation,” the Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo pointed out.

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Councilman Carlos Pomares credited the partnership and cooperation of Historical Preservation, Morris Canal Greenway, and Bloomfield Recreation for the making the project happen. Pomares explained that the old railings of the bridge not only were models for the new railing, but were saved and will be made into seating along the Morris Canal Greenway. The Greenway is a five mile route along the canal. Much of the route s on the former towpath of the canal.  

Ann Hardy of the Bloomfield Historic Preservation Commission told TAPinto Bloomfield that bride is a result of the collaboration between historic preservation and government. "Collaborations get the best results" she said. Ann also praised the recent reopening of the Hoover Avenue Bridge. Stone from the original bridge was used in the new bridge.

Hardy credited Rick Rockwell for his work on the project and with the commission within the township. Rockwell worked on the character and feel of the bridge. 

“The replacement of the Berkeley Avenue Bridge is an example of our ongoing initiative to bring our roads, bridges and intersections up to date so they provide the safest conditions and meet the demands of the community,” DiVincenzo said. “The old structure was in very poor shape and its design was outdated, making it unsafe for both pedestrians and motorists. This was an ambitious project because the new structure had to cross the Second River and the Old Morris Canal, but the result is a bridge that offers better sight lines and wider travel lanes,” he added.

The project also included  reconstructing the trail along the former Morris Canal which passes below the bridge and installing interpretive signage about the Canal. 

 

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