KEARNY — And on it goes …

Drivers passing by the ever-expanding construction site for the new Route 7 bridge and roadway accessories are no doubt wondering if the mammoth project will ever get done.

Particularly when they get a tantalizing view of the new bridge deck resting atop a barge moored in the Hackensack River within a quick swim’s reach of the stone-and-steel colossus.

That’s the same barge that’s been peacefully floating there for many months while work on the bridge infrastructure continues intermittently.

Right now, the main thrust of the job seems to be the new roadway accesses taking shape — the ones that will lead to and from the new span once they are properly aligned.

We asked the state Department of Transportation (DOT) — which is in charge of the $480 million federally-funded Wittpenn Bridge replacement project — for an update on how things were going.

In particular, we asked DOT spokesman Daniel Triana if the materials spotted on the barge were, in fact, the new decking, how long they’d been there and how much rent was being paid the barge owner. 

His reply: “Yes, three sections and two end beams of the lift span are on the barge. They arrived in July 2017. We do not have a cost estimate on the barge, as it is a contractor expense.”

In a July 30 email, Triana provided an update on the project, explaining why the two ends of the new bridge still remain unconnected — a year after the decking materials were floated to the site.

Elements of what the DOT refers to as “Contract 3” — the “lift span towers, lift span counterweight, elevator and all mechanical and electrical systems” — are currently under construction, Triana said.

“Although there were delays due to a harsh winter and some constructability material issues that the contractor is currently addressing, this is not expected to delay the overall project,” he said. 

“The final installation of the towers and lift span on the bridge are ongoing and expected to be installed and completed this fall,” he said, while the remaining work listed under Contract 3 figures to be done by “late 2018.”

Already completed, Triana said, is Contract 1, “which consisted of the construction of the river pier and fender system … completed in December 2014,” and Contract 2, “which consisted of constructing sections of the bridge approximately 200 feet north of the existing alignment … completed in January 2016.”

Contract 3A — “much of the utility work, pump station and water basin, and the reconstruction of a portion of Fish House Road” — is “on schedule” and figures to be done by this fall,” Triana said.

And, finally, Contract 4 — the “final roadway approaches, improvements to the Fish House Road interchange, new ramps to Newark Avenue and St. Paul’s Avenue and the demolition of the existing bridge” is also “on schedule, with sections contingent on the completion of Contract 3.”

Work on Contract 4 is slated for completion by fall 2022, he said.

Current ongoing activity, he said, includes demolition of the old Fish House Road bridge over Route 7 and relocation of gas and water mains and PSE&G and Verizon conduits in Kearny and Jersey City.

“Steel work on the new ramp deck from Routes 1&9 to Route 7 west is expected to begin soon, as well as construction of piles and piers on the west abutment of the bridge in Kearny,” Triana said.

Sometime this month, he said, motorists should anticipate westbound traffic to be shifted south onto a new temporary road to allow for the continuation of utility and roadway improvements.

And a Fish House Road pump station should be finished this fall — but ongoing improvements to Fish House Road will likely continue through fall 2022, he said.

So, it looks like another four years in the making, but that’s a bridge we’ll have to cross when we get there.

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