Traffic resumes over Clay St. Bridge

Photo by Ron LeirLong closed, the Clay St. Bridge is again open to traffic.
Photo by Ron Leir
Long closed, the Clay St. Bridge is again open to traffic.


It took half a year but now, finally, the Clay St. Bridge – which links East Newark and Newark over the Passaic River – is back in business.

The City of Newark shut it down July 4, 2012, not to upgrade the span – but to build a part of the Clay St. Combined Sewer Overflow solids/floatables control facility and the sewer pipes that connect to the structure.

East Newark officials said they were told by Newark representatives that the bridge had to be closed so that workers could safely access the area below the bridge deck.

In a Jan 10 press release, Newark Mayor Cory Booker said the completed project “will enable us to treat the Combined Sewer Discharges in accordance with NJ DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) mandates” and should result in a cleaner river.

The release added that the CSO is designed to facilitate the screening of “all combined overflow during heavy storms” and to transport the debris collected by the screening process to the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission’s treatment plant in the city’s East Ward, with the overflow discharged into the river.

Scafar Contracting Inc. of Newark, was the contractor for the job, which was supposed to take three months to complete. But it wasn’t until the night of Jan. 11 that the bridge was reopened.

Last week, The Observer asked the Newark mayor’s office why the job took longer than expected and how much it cost but the paper had received no answers by press time.

During the bridge’s closure, motorists were detoured to the Bridge St. Bridge in Harrison. Commuters from Kearny and southern Bergen County used the Belleville Pike bridge to access Rt. 21 in Newark.

East Newark Mayor Joseph Smith said he learned the bridge was once again taking traffic via a phone call from Harrison Mayor Ray McDonough. \Smith said he questioned whether the job was fully done. “When you get to the Newark side, the macadam looks like it’s not the finished product. The road’s bumpy there.” \Hours after vehicles began crossing the span, “it was amazing how light the traffic was,” Smith noted. “I guess people had gotten used to using alternate routes.” Eventually, though, the volume began picking up again, he said.

– Ron Leir

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