SUMMIT, NJ - The nearly three-year wait is almost over.
While the exact day and time is still being determined, the City of Summit plans to reopen the Morris Avenue Bridge on the early evening of June 29 or the morning of June 30, according to a City spokesperson.
The bridge replacement project which, at one point, was in dry dock for the nearly four months due the funding mechanism impasse between former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and state lawmakers, has been ongoing since Aug. 14, 2015 for rehabilitation to improve structural integrity, increase load carrying capacity, and improve traffic, pedestrian and railroad safety.
The bridge, which spans the Morris & Essex rail line, was replaced by New Jersey Transit, with funding from the State Transportation Trust Fund, in a project that was originally expected to take approximately 18 months to complete.
A brokered settlement, which resulted in a 23 cents per gallon gasoline tax taking effect November 1, 2016, restored funding to the financially-depleted state Transportation Trust Fund.
Until that accord was reached, Christie had -- on July 8, 2016, -- shut down all non-essential, transportation-related projects.
The project has had a noteworthy timeline, including:
August 14, 2015 - Bridge shut down, project work begins.
July 8, 2016 - Work halted due to Governor's Executive Order 210.
July 13, 2016 - Summit officials and ForwardNJ hold press conference at Bridge site asking for project to be reinstated, citing the negative civic, employment and economic impact the shutdown has caused.
August 15, 2016 - Union County serves Notice of Claim against New Jersey Department of Transportation.
August 17, 2016 - Governor issues Executive Order 213, authorizing projects vital to public safety to be resumed - results in no Morris Avenue Bridge activity.
September 15, 2016 - Summit officials hold second press conference at Bridge site, launch finishthebridge.org as part of campaign encouraging residents to contact state elected officials.
September 30, 2016 - Banners hung on barricades by the City of Summit at each end of the bridge imploring 'Let's get moving!" vanish, taken down by NJ Transit, citing safety considerations.
While the work has been taking place, both Morris Avenue between Springfield Avenue and Kent Place Boulevard have been completely closed. Vehicle, pedestrian and bus detours are in place, and Summit Police have been closely monitoring detour routes for traffic calming and pedestrian safety.