By Ron Leir
Dredging is inching closer to reality at the Passaic River mudflats in Lyndhurst.
The latest from the Lower Passaic River Cooperating Parties Group, about 70 corporations that have accepted financial responsibility for cleaning up the Passaic River, is that its general contractor was expected to begin “mobilization of equipment” at the Lyndhurst site (Milepost 10.9) “during the early morning hours of Tuesday, July 30.”
So advised Matthew Stanton, representing the CPG, in a July 23 letter to engineers for the counties of Bergen, Hudson and Essex.
If things go according to schedule, the contractor should actually begin the project – removal of 20,000 cubic yards of contaminated river sediment and transport of the sediment by barge to Clean Earth in Kearny for treatment – by Aug. 2, and daily bridge openings expected on average six nights per week, as of Aug. 4, according to CPG spokesman Jonathan Jaffe.
The mobilization and subsequent barge transport are keyed to the daily opening of 10 bridges that cross the Passaic River, including the Bridge St. Bridge linking Newark and Harrison (via Harrison Ave. in Harrison), but the Bridge St. span hasn’t operated properly since superstorm Sandy damaged its two motors.
New motors were due for delivery by the end of July but, whether they arrive on time or not, it appears that the CPG is committed to proceeding with the project, regardless.
Stanton’s letter to Bergen County Engineer Joseph Femia, Hudson County Engineer Demetrio Arencibia and Essex County Engineer Sanjeev Varghese says that, “Consistent with ongoing conversations with your staff and contractors, we will be treating the Bridge Street Bridge opening as routine opening and will NOT be keeping the Bridge Street Bridge in the open position for an extended period [of] time as we discussed on July 18.”
Elaborating on the situation, Jaffe said that the mobilization could still go forward. “With the assistance of Hudson and Essex counties [which share maintenance responsibilities for the Bridge St. span], the bridge is anticipated to open and close manually to accommodate this mobilization.
“Work could then begin after mobilization and the first barge containing dredge material would be transported back down river after the bridge is repaired.”
Stanton’s letter lists at least six vessels involved in the mobilization: a 120-foot-by-36 foot dredge barge, a 50-foot by-40-foot material transport barge, a 26-foot survey boat, a 12-foot Jon boat, a 55-footby- 22-foot 1300 hp tugboat and one additional 84-footby- 26-foot tug.
On July 30, the “fleet” was scheduled to reach the Point- No-Point Conrail Bridge linking Newark and Kearny at about 3 a.m. and the DeJessa (Park Ave.) Bridge linking Lyndhurst and Nutley at 5:14 a.m., according to Stanton’s letter.
The other Passaic River bridges that are expected to be involved in the barge transport enterprise are: the Rutgers Ave. (Rt. 7) Bridge, linking North Arlington and Belleville; the Clay St. Bridge, connecting East Newark and Newark; the Jackson St. Bridge (Harrison- Newark); the Penn RR/ Centre St. Bridge (Harrison- Newark); the Amtrak Dock Bridge (Harrison-Newark); Morristown Line RR; and the Penn RR at Market St. Bridge.
With the “Head of the Passaic” Regatta event slated for October, Jaffe said the expectation by the CPG is “that work will be stopped and project vessels will be secured away from Regatta activities prior to the start of the Regatta.”