ROXBURY, NJ - The new Landing Road Bridge and related upgrades to the area will cost about $22 million and should be completed in 2022, said a consultant for the project Tuesday.
In a presentation to the Roxbury Mayor and Council, consultant Michael Viglianco said the project will remain in the design phase until next year, go out to bids in 2020 or 2021 and take a 18 months to a year to build.
The project is a county affair, funded by the state, but Roxbury has had substantial involvement through a local advisory panel called the Landing Gateway Committee.
Viglianco, a project engineer with T.Y. Lin International, said there are “numerous concerns” about the existing concrete arch bridge, a 2-lane structure built in 1907 by the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad.
“It’s old and it’s deteriorating,” Viglianco said. “It was previously deemed structurally deficient prior to 2013. There’s continuing concrete deterioration. In addition to structural issues, the bridge is also functionally obsolete due to inadequate roadway geometry in the approaches and across the bridge.”
The new bridge and right-of-way work will require the purchase and demolition of six private buildings and the partial purchase of about seven other sites, he said. County and local officials hope the project it will breathe new life into Landing and turn it into a less shabby, more visitor-friendly gateway to Roxbury and Lake Hopatcong.
A Lot of Brainstorming
“Three years we’ve been working on this project with the Landing Gateway Committee and taking all objectives and concerns into account,” said Charlie Bautz, a member of the committee. “The county has worked with us on every step of the way with concerns from traffic to property to the roadway to residents, taxpayers and the entire Landing community … With the project we’re looking at now, we feel we did the best for the community and Landing and we would like to pass this off to you.”
The new bridge will have four lanes, including outside lanes wide enough for bike paths, and wide sidewalks on both sides, Viglianco said. He said it is being designed to handle projected traffic levels through 2038.
The bridge is being designed to look similar to the current span, which is part of the Morris Canal Historic District and the Lackawanna Railroad Historic District. Viglianco noted the county entered into an agreement with the state Historic Preservation Office ensuring that the new bridge's appearance remain as true as possible to the history of the site.
“We have to do interpretive signage that will be placed within site of the bridge,” he said. “We also have to have an archeological treatment plan in case we encounter any archeological artifacts in the process of construction.”
The Opposite Effect?
Roxbury Councilman Bob DeFillippo pointed out that a main goal of the project is to make Landing “more pedestrian friendly,” a destination point for Lake Hopatcong tourism and recreation. But during the public portion of the meeting, Landing resident Robin Kline said she is concerned the wider road will have the opposite effect.
“Good design incorporates improvements that make traffic flow pleasantly and safely, not necessarily flow quickly,” she said. “There is a growing trend in the transportation world … that shows that communities are going more toward narrowing of roadways, not widening roadways.”
Kline said the new bridge redesign should be “more than just a thoroughfare for cars and trucks” and “should have a lasting legacy, over the next hundred years, of moving people, not just cars.”
She said prior road widening projects on Lakeside Boulevard turned the once quaint thoroughfare into a “wide, fast, 4-lane roadway" that killed the soul of the neighborhood. "Fifty years later we still have declining residential properties in this area, businesses continue to fail," she said. "Perhaps the road was just engineered a little too much … it destroyed a once thriving neighborhood.”
She said she is “a little doubtful" when she sees the designers have "done nothing about traffic calming,” and she asked them to “please consider calming down the cars and trucks to make this gateway corridor welcoming and enjoyable for all.”