FAIRFIELD, NJ — The New Dutch Lane Bridge, a 79-year-old structure in Fairfield that crosses over the Deepavaal Brook, was officially reopened to pedestrian and vehicular traffic just in time for the holidays after upgrades were made over a period of several months to enhance motor vehicle and pedestrian safety and to meet the changing needs of motorists.

As part of the Essex County project, the existing bridge was completely removed and replaced with a modern, single-span structure that is made of pre-cast concrete and steel piles. The new bridge, which is about 40 feet long and 43.5 feet wide, has two travel lanes (one in either direction), a shoulder and parapet on both sides.

In the spring, New Dutch Lane will be repaved and additional landscaping will be planted around the bridge.

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"The New Dutch Lane Bridge was obsolete and needed to be replaced with a modern structure,” said Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. “While there is never a good time to close a roadway, we worked cooperatively with the Township of Fairfield and our contractors to make sure the road was reopened before the end of the year.”

The original structure, built in 1940, was constructed of reinforced concrete and timber. According to the county, the latest bridge inspection report described the New Dutch Lane Bridge as being in poor condition and identified it as "structurally deficient."

During construction, which began in July, New Dutch Lane was closed, and traffic was detoured around the construction area. Access to Kaplan Drive, Eldridge Road and all businesses off of New Dutch Lane was not interrupted, and a temporary walking bridge was constructed for pedestrian access.

The recently completed upgrades are part of the DiVincenzo administration's ongoing initiative to modernize the county’s roadway infrastructure. According to the county executive, improvements like the ones made to the bridge “enhance motor vehicle and pedestrian safety, meet the changing needs of motorists and spur economic development.”

"We are all concerned about public safety and making sure our roads are up to date is part of that,” said Essex County Freeholder Len Luciano. “On behalf of the Freeholder Board, we are proud to support projects that enhance motor vehicle and pedestrian safety.”

Fairfield Mayor James Gasparini, who was accompanied by council president Thomas Morgan and council members Michael McGlynn, Joseph Cifelli and John LaForgia, Township Administrator Joseph Catenaro and Police Chief Gary Manna at the ribbon cutting, reiterated that this was only one of many projects that DiVincenzo has spearheaded in Fairfield.

Other projects in Fairfield completed by Essex County include repaving Plymouth Street from Horseneck Road to Route 46 in 2019, Horseneck Road from Plymouth Street to Fairfield Road in 2016, Fairfield Road from Route 46 to Passaic Avenue in 2015 and Hollywood Avenue from Fairfield Road to Horseneck Road in 2012 and desnagging the Passaic River in 2008.

"Joe has done a lot of great projects in Fairfield and this is definitely one of them,” said Gasparini. “We are pleased with the timeliness of the work getting done and New Dutch Lane being reopened according to the original timeline.”

According to the county, PKB Engineering from Secaucus received a professional services contract for $256,938 to design the new bridge; Pillari Brothers Construction Corp. from Farmingdale was awarded a publicly bid contract for $1,962,858 to perform the construction work; and Mott MacDonald from Iselin was awarded a contract for $199,904 to provide construction inspection services.

The Essex County Department of Public Works is monitoring the project to ensure delays are avoided, and funding is being provided through grants from the New Jersey Department of Transportation's Local Bridges Future Needs Program and Annual Transportation Program (ATP 2018).