By Anthony J. Machcinski

The morning commute for many area residents traveling on Passaic Ave. just got a bit longer. The Clay St. bridge, which spans the Passaic River and connects East Newark to Newark and Rt. 21, will be closed down for the next two months.

The bridge was closed to vehicular traffic on July 5 and is scheduled to reopen Sept. 3 to allow for Scafar Contracting, of Newark, to install a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) chamber on the Newark side of the bridge.

The CSO acts as a filter, keeping solids larger than half an inch from getting into the river. According to Scafar employee Patrick Visaggi, CSOs come into play when there is a “major rain event” such as large rainstorms or hurricanes that bring continuous rainfall lasting more than 24 hours. CSOs will not only help prevent solids from getting into the river, but will help channel the flow of the water towards treatment plants.

CSO systems are commonly found in larger cities. Visaggi said that Scafar has done several CSO projects in the area, including Jersey City, Paterson and other sections of Newark.

According to Visaggi, the price of the project varies depending on the size of the CSO system. As of press time, calls to several Newark agencies for the exact price of this project weren’t returned.

Although the bridge will be closed for cars, motorcycles and trucks, East Newark Police Chief Kenneth Sheehan said pedestrians will still be able to cross the bridge using the sidewalk on the north side.

Sheehan said: “Traffic will be diverted to the Bridge St. bridge (in Harrison). People in lower Bergen County and Kearny can take an alternate route to Rt. 21 South using the Arlington Bridge.”

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