A bridge too old gets new life

Photo by Ron Leir The state Department of Transportation is undertaking repairs to the Conrail Bridge along Rt. 7 in Kearny.
Photo by Ron Leir
The state Department of Transportation is undertaking repairs to the Conrail Bridge along Rt. 7 in Kearny.


Two infrastructure projects are moving forward in the West Hudson/South Bergen meadowlands area, one involving motorists using Rt. 7 (Belleville Turnpike) and the other, regional power consumers.

The state Department of Transportation has begun working on upgrades to the Conrail Bridge on Rt. 7, about two miles west of the Wittpenn Bridge, between the eastern and western N.J. Turnpike extensions, and near the radio station transmission stations along the Rt. 7 corridor.

According to DOT spokesman Kevin Israel, “The project involves replacing the entire superstructure of the bridge due to its poor condition and performing extensive repairs to the substructure.

“Some material has fallen from the bridge recently and bridge joints are exposed in certain areas. These repairs will add approximately 40 years to the life of this bridge and help ensure the safety of motorists for years to come.”

DOT spokesman Dan Triana said that, “The contractor (Konkus Corp. of Chester) set up construction barricades as well as temporary scaffolding and shielding underneath the bridge” and began demolition last month.

A DOT posting reports that the bridge, supported by reinforced concrete abutments and piers, was built in 1936 and is “structurally deficient due to the poor condition of the deck slab and severe rust, localized section losses and deteriorated bridge deck joints.” The fix-up contract calls for the superstructure’s “deck, beams, bearings and parapets” to be replaced with “minor repairs to the substructure” and “lighting, guide rail, sidewalk and curb will be reconstructed. Also, incidental bridge approach work, asphalt paving and drainage work will be performed. The new structure will be constructed within the same footprint as the existing bridge.”

Work is being done in four stages, the first three involving new deck and parapets. Each stage will involve one-third of the bridge at a time, moving from east to west, with the remaining work to be done in stage 4. The new traffic pattern shifts the southbound (east) lane to the shoulder, while the northbound (west) lane will shift towards the other side of the bridge.

DOT is maintaining one lane of traffic in each direction during daylight hours, with a “limited number” of nightly traffic detours planned due to bridge closures. Motorists traveling west (northbound) from Jersey City will be diverted onto the Newark Turnpike/Harrison Ave. to Schuyler Ave. and back to Rt. 7/Belleville Turnpike while those driving east (southbound) from Kearny to Jersey City will be directed to Schuyler Ave. to Harrison Ave./Newark Turnpike to Rt. 7.

“The $13.7 million federally-funded bridge rehabilitation project is expected to be completed by the end of summer 2017,” Triana said.

Photo courtesy PSE&G Skycrane helicopter lifts PSE&G transmission tower into position in North Arlington meadows.
Photo courtesy PSE&G
Skycrane helicopter lifts PSE&G transmission tower into position in North
Arlington meadows.

Meanwhile, PSE&G said it is proceeding with upgrades to its regional electric power system and, to that end, last Monday, Oct. 5, the utility deployed a specialized, heavy-lift helicopter known as Skycrane to begin construction of 12 new 115-foot high transmission towers in the North Arlington meadowlands as part of its Northeast Grid electric reliability project.

Choppers picked up individual tower sections and moved them into position along the utility’s right-of-way. Workers on the towers then secured each section and bolted them into place.

The helicopters were also being used to first disassemble the existing towers and transport the steel structures to a nearby designated area for eventual recycling.

Work was expected to be completed by Oct. 10.

The Northeast Grid Reliability Project is designed to improve the utility’s power service in north Jersey from the current 138,000 volt service to 230,000 volts on existing overhead transmission lines to comply with requirements set by the PJM (Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland) Interconnection, which, according to Wikipedia, “is currently the world’s largest competitive wholesale electricity market,” serving 61 million customers spread over all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

PSE&G is upgrading a 50-mile route of overhead transmission along the utility’s rights-of-way from Roseland, through West Caldwell, North Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Little Falls, Clifton, Bloomfield, Nutley, Belleville, Newark, Lyndhurst, Kearny and Jersey City, although new transmission towers originally designed for 230kV power already exist in Bloomfield, Nutley, Belleville and North Arlington and will not be replaced.

Underground transmission circuits are also being installed along other parts of the utility’s system, including Jersey City, Clifton and sections of Bergen County.

– Ron Leir 

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