The dangling legs belong to a worker installing temporary scaffolding under the Route 3 bridge over the Passaic River, where $5 million in repairs are scheduled to begin next week.
The bridge, built in the 1940’s, is one of eight of New Jersey’s 6,400 bridges in need of “massive rehabilitation or replacement,” though Gov. Corzine says, not necessary unsafe. Corzine ordered the state’s bridges to be inspected following the Minnesota bridge collapse earlier this month.
The major bridge is a movable span over the Passaic River. It requires frequent maintenance repairs to the concrete slab decks on the approach spans, and to the open steel grating deck on the movable span. These repairs require lane closures and, as a result, severely restrict traffic. A bridge opening has not been needed in over 15 years because marine traffic has changed.
The bridge was not designed to support current or anticipated highway vehicles. Another major problem is that the structure was originally designed to carry two lanes of traffic in each direction. To accommodate the substantial increase in traffic through the years, the shoulders on the road and bridge were converted into an additional lane in each direction. Since the on and off ramps to Route 21 in Clifton and Riverside Avenue in Rutherford are immediately adjacent to the bridge, there are no acceleration or deceleration lanes; ramp traffic enters and exits directly from a through lane.
Since the bridge cannot be rehabilitated to provide for current highway geometric and safety standards, replacement is the preferred alternative. It is anticipated that this bridge will be replaced in stages, one direction at a time. Preliminary discussions with the U.S. Coast Guard indicate that a fixed bridge would be acceptable at the location. This would result in the bridge requiring less maintenance in the future.
Workers onsite said the scaffolding was being constructed preparatory to steel grating work due to begin and that repairs were scheduled for weekend evenings.
Hat tip to Soprano Sue who noticed the activity under the bridge.