UNGAPPED — New Wittpenn Bridge connected … finally

It’s taken much longer than initially expected. But the new Wittpenn Bridge that links Kearny to Jersey City is one step closer to becoming a reality.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation last week installed a unique bridge deck for the new Route 7/Wittpenn Bridge, marking a major milestone in the construction of a new vertical lift bridge to replace the existing bridge.

The Wittpenn Bridge over the Hackensack River project is completely replacing the existing bridge with a new, wider vertical lift bridge, doubling the vertical clearance over the Hackensack River from 35-feet to 70-feet, resulting in fewer openings and less congestion.

The Orthotropic Deck for the new bridge was lifted into place over three days last week using one of the largest crane barges in the country.

The deck was constructed in three sections, one section lifted into place each day over three days.

The NJDOT’s contractor, CCA Civil, Inc., is currently bolting steel connectors to join the three deck sections, along with the end floor beams, to make one complete lift span unit. Later this month, the full, new deck will be connected to the lift span cables.

This is the first time this innovative type of deck has been used in New Jersey. It was manufactured by Vigor LLC at its facilities in Clackamas, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington, and was transported to New Jersey through the Panama Canal.

Bridge deck design

The Orthotropic Deck is a lightweight design that has a thin steel plate and a series of ribs and floor beams, similar to U.S. Battleship decks.

Prefabricating the deck results in faster construction and higher quality control. Having a lightweight deck also allows the bridge to operate more efficiently, reduces the amount of future maintenance and additionally, creates a longer span length providing a smoother driving surface.

Construction of the new bridge is being accomplished in five separate contracts. The first three contracts have been completed —building the Fish House Road Pump Station, advance utilities, roadway embankments, river piers, fender system and a portion of the approach spans for the new vertical lift bridge.

The fourth and fifth contracts are currently under construction and will complete the approach spans, the Fish House Road flyover ramps, new roadways and the new vertical lift bridge span and towers.

Construction of the final bridge and approach roadway segments of the new vertical lift bridge over and the improvements to the interchange at Fish House Road are slated, according to the NJDOT, to be completed a year from now.

New connection ramps to Newark Avenue and St. Paul’s Avenue in Jersey City will be provided along with the demolition of the existing Wittpenn Bridge.

The Vibro Concrete Columns (VCC) for the west approach, load transfer mat and lightweight fill are part of this contract. Walls 1-10 and Sign Structures 1-9 will also be completed. The Superstructure for Unit 1, Part of Unit 5 and Unit 7 on the Route 7 mainline as well as the superstructure for relocated Fish House Road northbound ramp, relocated Fish House Road southbound ramp, ramp to Newark Avenue, and a ramp  to Routes 1&9 will complete the construction of the new bridge.

After traffic is fully transferred to the new bridge, the existing bridge will be removed. A portion of the substructure will be removed where the foundations are not shared with the Conrail Bridge.

Existing piers and the east abutment will also be removed to below the existing ground line.

Final roadway construction will be included using various maintenance of traffic schemes to complete at grade several ramps and complete transitions to the Route 7 mainline, Fish House Road, the ramp to Routes 1&9/Newark Avenue and Ramp P and Jughandle J.

This contract also includes various utility relocations to accommodate the new bridge and roadway alignment.

The work currently underway began in 2017. The material for the bridge deck that was installed last week was transported to New Jersey from the west coast three years ago.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, an organization he has served since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and X, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.