The German Valley Historic District bridge is "a historic landmark in Long Valley and a vital link for local residents," officials said.
|Updated Thu, Jun 15, 2023 at 2:19 pm ET
LONG VALLEY, NJ — Summer construction around the nearly 150-year-old South Branch bridge on Schooley's Mountain Road is about to begin.
Morris County officials will begin repairing the stone arch bridge on Schooley's Mountain Road that spans the Raritan River's south branch on Friday.
The project will cost around $1 million and will include rebuilding the span's downstream wall as well as installing lightweight concrete and a waterproof membrane atop the arches, extending the bridge's lifespan by 30 to 40 years.
The upstream wall will not be rehabilitated because it is still in excellent condition following the addition of a walkway and concrete reinforcement on that side of the bridge in 1994, officials said.
According to officials, the township will incur no project fees because the county is fully funding the project.
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The bridge in Long Valley's German Valley Historic District is "a historic landmark in Long Valley and a vital link for local residents," according to the county.
The current bridge was built in 1906 and replaced the original structure, which was built in 1876.
"This is not going to be a fun place to drive around this summer. Sorry. But this is one of those things when you have historic structures, like we have, especially ones that everybody drives over 12 times a day, eventually, it has to be replaced," Washington Township Mayor Matt Murello said.
Steel arches were installed to support the stonework during a 1994 restoration, but part of the wall has deteriorated to the point where it requires full reconstruction above the arches, according to county officials.
The most recent restoration comes after emergency repairs were completed in February after a car collision damaged the bridge.
During the first phase of the project, the southbound lane of Schooley's Mountain Road will be closed while the contractor removes and rebuilds the wall, except from June 19 to June 23, when the bridge will be completely closed to all traffic from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The county estimates that the work will take 51 days, during which time northbound traffic will be able to cross the bridge as usual.
After the wall is rebuilt, the bridge will be completely closed for the remainder of the project to allow the contractor to remove and replace all material above the stone arches. This work is expected to take 21 days to complete, with the goal of completing the entire project by Aug. 23, 2023, when school reopens.
During the bridge construction, motorists will be detoured along Flocktown Road, Naughright Road, and Bartley Road.
For the duration of the project, the county will install temporary traffic signals at the intersections of Flocktown and Naughright, as well as Naughright Road and Fairview Avenue.
Officials stated that no construction work is planned for Sundays, but some construction work may occur on Saturdays and during the week. They may be forced to work on Sundays if the project takes longer than expected.
"What's important is that everyone during the summer will have access from north or south to all the township facilities, the senior center, everything in Rock Spring Park, as well as all the way down to the church. It's just going to have to be a little creative," Murello said.
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